Informal Feminism

{December 27, 2010}   Happy Holidays!

I want to begin this post by saying Happy Holidays to everyone; I hope that you enjoyed your celebration if you celebrate. If not then hopefully there was time to visit with family and friends. In this week’s post what I want to address is the term happy holidays.

            I would like to start by pointing out that I don’t believe that feminism should only be targeted around women specific issues but that it should incorporate greater social issues and in this vein I would like to address the racism I have seen surrounding this holiday season. This stems from a post that I have seen circulating on facebook, it states: “We can’t say Merry Christmas; we have to say Happy Holidays. We can’t call it a Christmas tree, it’s now called a Holiday tree??? Because it might offend someone! If you don’t like our “Canadian Customs” and it offends you so much then LEAVE!! They are called Canadian customs because we live in Canada and WE HAVE OUR OWN TRADITIONS!! If you agree with this, please post this on your status and MERRY CHRISTMAS EH!”

I have had more then one friend post this status and it is inevitably followed by a barrage of ignorant comments telling people who celebrate other cultures to go home. As a Canadian, born and raised, I remember being taught in school that our country is made up of many different cultures and that we should celebrate this fact. We are part of multi-cultural society and as such we house a diverse set of cultural traditions, not just Christianity and Christmas.

It is always at this time of year that I hear this commentary being used. I hear lots of people who are offended that Merry Christmas has been replaced by Happy Holidays, in some places. This post represents the feeling of some citizen’s that Christmas is a Canadian custom. However, as a country that celebrates itself for its diversity and not for being a melting pot; Christmas is not a Canadian Custom. Christmas is a choice and is based out of religion, not state. I personally know several people who do not celebrate Christmas because they are from different cultures and to state that these people should go home because they do not celebrate your traditions is racist. A person should have the right to say whatever greeting and celebrate however they are comfortable.

This post shows that people seem to feel as if they are under attack, what they don’t seem to notice is that regardless of whether someone decides to say happy holidays or merry Christmas, Christmas is shoved down your throat at every turn during the month of December. When I leave the house I see Christmas specific decorations, every store and restaurant has a Christmas special. Christmas is everywhere regardless of the greeting. Then people have the gull to be upset that other cultures want the tiniest concession of respect.

The anger around this post seems to stem from the idea that Merry Christmas is not being respected, but the people who replicate this status are disrespecting other cultures. They only thing that is being asked of people who celebrate Christmas is to offer the same respect to people who celebrate other traditions, as not everyone celebrates Christmas. To be able to afford these people the right to their traditions is the sign of a progressive culture. To make commentary bashing it is a dangerous sign.

What I think bothers me the most about this post is that people are not thinking critically about it. I know some of the people who posted it share my views on racism but they did not take the time to think about this statement before posting. That type of ignorance of an issue is what can lead to violence due to misunderstanding. That is how I see this fitting into feminism, many women suffer at the hand of racism and because of this targeting racism messages and calling them out is important. More people need to critically challenge the things that they think about posting or forwarding in e-mails, all these statements do is promote hate. Instead of fostering hatred of other culture, we should celebrate the diverse nature of other cultures and especially those who share our country. Doing this is a way to promote understanding, instead of culture bashing. The final thought I would like to leave you will is that this is just another example of Christianity forcing its ideologies on other cultures. Christmas might be prevalent in our country now but it was not always. It is a sign of the colonialism that formed this country, after slaughtering its Indigenous people and their traditions. I don’t want people to think that I believe that Christianity is the only religion to promote racism ideologies. The reason that this post focused so specifically on it was due to the nature of the original facebook post. Enjoy the rest of the holidays and I’ll have a new post next week.


Marnie says:

Well said.

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