The Instigator
XStrikeX
Con (against)
Winning
20 Points
The Contender
Danielle
Pro (for)
Losing
19 Points

Merry Christmas vs. Happy Holidays

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 7 votes the winner is...
XStrikeX
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/21/2010 Category: Society
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 18,152 times Debate No: 11829
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (7)
Votes (7)

 

XStrikeX

Con

Hello, I am XStrikeX representing the opposition/con side of this debate. I am stating that the American public should say "happy holdiays," rather then saying "merry Christmas."

Introduction:
Certain people of English-speaking countries have said "Merry Christmas" to each other around the time of Christmas in December. This tradition has been amplified in the last century.
Now within the services and retail businesses as well as in government, many have successfully argued that the term should be changed to "Happy Holidays", because such a statement expresses a religiously neutral perspective and is an inclusive term. The controversy has become particularly prominent in larger retail stores such as Wal-Mart, which have a prominent place in the present-buying surrounding Christmas. Wal-Mart actually began encouraging the use of the term "happy holidays" in place of "Merry Christmas" in 2004 and 2005. This move was met by significant opposition, causing Wal-Mart to change course in 2006 and subsequent years, where it began using the term "Merry Christmas" once again. In 2009, in a similar instance, Best Buy changed its policy, defining "happy holidays" as their preferred form of seasons greetings. And for the first time ever, in 2009, the White House called their "Christmas tree" a "holiday tree." These and other moves by companies and governments at different levels have stimulated a major debate.

Points:

1. Happy holidays includes all religions and faiths.
Hanukkah and sometimes Eid al Fitr fall in the same period as Christmas. Hanukkah as a Holiday predates the Christmas holiday by almost 200 years [4] as it dates from the 1st Century AD. Christmas was forbidden by the early Christian Church and created a Holiday coinciding with the pagan Feast of Sol Invictus by the Roman Emperor, Constantine the Great, in the 4th century AD.

2. Merry Christmas is offensive.
Organizations and businesses that have a policy of saying "merry Christmas" risk being seen as favoring Christians. A non-Christian that receives the message "merry Christmas" could certainly, therefore, feel their faith is being excluded or just under-considered, and could thus react very negatively to the message. Subsequently, while "merry Christmas" certainly makes Christians happy, it carries the risk of offending non-Christians. No matter what the intended "spirit" of "merry Christmas", this risk is real for non-Christians.

I look forward to debating with my opponent.
Danielle

Pro

Many thanks to my opponent for beginning this debate.

Rebuttal --

I'll begin by citing my opponent's claim, "Many have successfully argued that the term should be changed to 'Happy Holidays' because such a statement expresses a religiously neutral perspective and is an inclusive term." I negate. Saying "Happy holidays" to someone insinuates that they are celebrating one of three holidays: Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. Christmas and Hanukkah are both religious holidays, while Kwanzaa is an African cultural holiday [1]. Now because Kwanzaa is an African tradition, we can assume that it is mostly black people who celebrate Kwanzaa, and black people make up 12.8% of the population [2].

Atheism is the 3rd largest religious belief group in the world [3] and slightly more than 20% (so more than 1 out of 5) do not believe in God in the United States [4]. Therefore, if you say "Happy Holidays" to someone - especially a white person - you are implying that they are celebrating a religious holiday. So I ask - why is it considered rude by the government, businesses, etc. to say "Merry Christmas" to someone? The answer is that it implies that they believe in Jesus/God. However, saying "Happy Holidays" to someone implies that they are celebrating a religious holiday... i.e. that they believe in Jesus/God, so wouldn't that be considered equally as rude? Also, if they say it to a black person implying that they celebrate Kwanzaa, this too assumes that black people are celebrating something from the African culture which can be seen as biased as most black people here consider themselves American - not African.

So back to my opponent's two points, he first says that saying "Happy holidays" includes all religion and faiths. This is wrong. As I've already mentioned, it does not include the faith in no God (atheism). Furthermore, after Christianity, the most popular religions in order are Islam (then agnosticism/atheism), Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, etc. [5]. In fact, Judaism is 12th on that list. Therefore, the phrase "Happy holidays" implies that everyone is either Christian or Jewish when the reality is that there are a dozen more beliefs in between. In other words, the term "happy holidays" does not apply to those who are religious but not Christian/Jewish because that time of the year is generally non celebrated in other faiths.

In conclusion, when Con notes, "A non-Christian that receives the message 'Merry Christmas' could certainly feel their faith is being excluded or just under-considered," he is forgetting that saying "Happy Holidays" does the exact same thing to people. In other words, it is no better to say "Happy holidays" than "Merry Christmas" because both terms can be considered offensive or exclusive. Furthermore, Con is is ignoring people's right to free speech. There is nothing immoral, dangerous or even explicitly rude about saying "Merry Christmas." If one chooses to take offense to it, then that is their prerogative.

That's all for now - Back to Con, and good luck.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://quickfacts.census.gov...
[3] http://atheistempire.com...
[4] http://northstatescience.blogspot.com...
[5] http://www.adherents.com...
Debate Round No. 1
XStrikeX

Con

Thanks for responding, theLwerd. I think this'll be a great debate.

Refutation/Rebuttal

My opponent has claimed that it is offensive to atheists if you tell them, "Happy Holidays." However, this is untrue, for even atheists celebrate Christmas. According to the NY Times, many atheists celebrate Christmas. Even Charles Darwin, the challenger of Christianity who came up with the idea that God didn't create man celebrated Christmas with his family. Also, according to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, "holiday" can be defined as "a day exempt from work." Many people are allowed to go on vacation and others are allowed to take their day off to celebrate with their family. So in other words, "happy holidays" can possibly mean, "happy day-off." Also, my opponent has not furthered their case why "Merry Christmas" is any better than "happy holidays."

Happy holidays is more inclusive, even as my opponent said. She said "happy holidays" celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza, and I previously stated that those with a day off of work can be told "happy holidays," and even atheists celebrate holidays like Christmas. My opponent even said that Merry Christmas means belief in Jesus/God which is Christianity. One religion is included in Merry Christmas, whereas several are included in Happy holidays.

I wish my opponent luck, and would like to thank her for accepting this debate.
Danielle

Pro

Many thanks to my opponent for his swift rebuttal :)

Con begins by stating that it is not offensive to say "Happy Holidays" to atheists, because many atheists do in fact celebrate Christmas even if they don't believe in Jesus. However, this is (a) making the assumption that all atheists celebrate Christmas, and (b) does not address the problem of offending someone. If the whole benefit of saying "Happy Holidays" is that it presumes the person you're greeting does not believe in Jesus, but merely celebrates a holiday, then saying "Happy holidays" still presumes that they're celebrating a holiday of some kind.

Also, Con notes that "holiday" can refer to "day off" therefore saying "Happy Holidays" is just a way of telling one to enjoy their day off. However, not everyone has off the holidays so again this greeting is based on the same assumptions that "Merry Christmas" is. Further, people say "Happy holidays" during the holiday season, and people do not have off all throughout the holiday season therefore this analogy isn't even completely cohesive.

Moreover, if Con's argument is that people get off from work on Christmas and therefore saying "Happy Holidays" is appropriate, then the exact same thing can be said about saying "Merry Christmas." If I say "Merry Christmas" to an atheist, then maybe I am simply telling them to enjoy their day off, right? Christmas is indeed celebrated on December 25th therefore saying "Merry Christmas" can just as easily be translated to, "Merry day off" by my opponent's own standards.

In conclusion, I admit that saying "Happy holidays" includes 2 holidays more than one therefore it is logically obviously more inclusive. However, not many people in the U.S. celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa anyway therefore the number of people this satisfies isn't dramatically greater. More importantly, it does not address the problem of offending non-believers which is Con's whole argument of why he supports saying "Happy holidays" in the first place. The phrase "Happy holidays" ignores non-believers, Muslims, Buddists, and a handful of other religions I mentioned and cited in R1. If "Happy Holidays" translates to "Happy day off," the same could be said about the phrase "Merry Christmas" since Christmas is usually a day that people have off.

That said, the reason I cited in the last round about why "Merry Christmas" is acceptable was (let me copy and paste to prove I addressed this) -- "Con is is ignoring people's right to free speech. There is nothing immoral, dangerous or even explicitly rude about saying "Merry Christmas." If one chooses to take offense to it, then that is their prerogative." Here you can see that my argument isn't that saying "Merry Christmas" is BETTER but that it's merely equal, so Con saying "Happy Holidays" is better has been negated. Further, I have explained that saying "Merry Christmas" shouldn't be considered taboo or politically incorrect simply because people have a right to say it, it's not offensive and it is more of a personal and genuine greeting to those who believe in Christmas.

Thanks again, Con, and good luck to ya.
Debate Round No. 2
XStrikeX

Con

Thanks for the response. Time for the final round. :D

A key thing I would like to point out to the audience is that the proposition has only refuted my points, while never actually proving why Merry Christmas is any better than Happy Holidays.

My opponent has stated that when I argue that happy holidays is about telling someone to enjoy their day off, merry Christmas has the same effect. However, this is untrue, and can be separated by a single word. Holiday. Merry Christmas does not contain the word holiday and points to a specific day. Plus, there are many other religions besides the idea of Atheism and Merry Christmas solely includes Christianity, while leaving out Judaism and Kwanzaa.

"Con begins by stating that it is not offensive to say "Happy Holidays" to atheists, because many atheists do in fact celebrate Christmas even if they don't believe in Jesus. However, this is (a) making the assumption that all atheists celebrate Christmas, and (b) does not address the problem of offending someone." Well, saying "Merry Christmas" is even worse. It does not include as many faiths as "Happy Holidays" and assumes that the person is Christian.

The proposition has failed to show why Merry Christmas is better. Just because we can say it, doesn't mean that we should say it or that it is better or more respectful. According to U.S. News, 52% of the American public are offended by Merry Christmas to some degree. This adds to a 2005 Pew University poll which shows that 26 percent of Americans are extremely irritated by the saying.

"The phrase "Happy holidays" ignores non-believers, Muslims, Buddists, and a handful of other religions I mentioned and cited in R1." The phrase "Merry Christmas" ignores non-believers, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, and other religions, too. Happy holidays includes more religions than Merry Christmas, which is why it is better.

For these reasons, Happy Holidays is better than Merry Christmas.
I'd like to thank my opponent for a great debate. :)
Danielle

Pro

Thanks to my opponent for the debate!

I'll respond to Con in the order of argument he's presented...

1. First, Con says that I have not stated why saying "Merry Christmas" is better than saying "Happy Holidays." I have actually refuted this in 2 ways, and explained explicitly how in the last round. First, I said that my burden isn't necessarily to prove that saying "Merry Christmas" is better but simply that it is equally appropriate. Second, even if for some reason you would assume that my burden is to prove that saying "Happy Holidays" is BETTER, I have already explicitly stated in the last round that, "saying 'Merry Christmas' shouldn't be considered taboo or politically incorrect simply because people have a right to say it, it's not offensive, and it is more of a personal and genuine greeting to those who believe in Christmas." Therefore Con is incorrect in saying that I have not fulfilled a burden or ignored something in particular.

2. Con says that "Merry Christmas" refers to a specific day and therefore it is not as acceptable to say. However, people start saying "Happy Holidays" from late November to early January, generally through New Years Day [1] though Christmas is only on one of those days, and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa only last for 7-8 days out of that 28 day period. In other words, there is no actual holiday going on during the times when people say "Happy Holidays" for 3/4 of the time. Therefore it is implied that "Happy Holidays" is a general greeting just as "Merry Christmas" is a general greeting and they generally mean the same thing. Neither greeting actually implies that there is an actual holiday going on during that day. If that were true, then people wouldn't say "Happy holidays" long after something like Hanukkah has ended. Even more proof is the fact that Kwanzaa in particular begins AFTER Christmas on December 26 [2], which is usually when people stop saying "Happy Holidays."

The point here is that when people say "Merry Christmas" they say it long before the actual Christmas day therefore you can't say that "Merry Christmas" only acknowledges one day and "Happy holidays" acknowledges more than one day. The fact is that those phrases both, in general, mean the same thing and there is no actual way to know if someone is celebrating something, therefore the phrase is generally a representation of what the individual celebrates. If one chooses to take offense, that is their preoperative; however, it is just as offensive to assume that one celebrates any holiday to begin with.

3. Con acknowledges that there are more religions aside from atheism, which proves absolutely nothing. I've already acknowledged this and actually listed a bunch of the world's most popular religions in order, so...? My point was that saying "Happy holidays" assumes one is either Christian, Jewish or celebrates the African culture - which is no different or better than assuming someone celebrates just Christianity.

4. Con says that "Merry Christmas" excludes Judaism and Kwanzaa. That's entirely true - and so what? It's not my job or anyone else's job to make everyone feel included. If Wal-Mart wanted to hang a giant sign that said, "Merry Christmas!" then that would be their prerogative. If people felt excluded - oh well. Once again, this is no different than Atheists feeling excluded (or awkward) about "Happy holidays," and I'm sure it's no different from how Muslims might feel excluded since Wal-Mart doesn't hang a sign that says, "Happy Ramadan." Also, many times the holidays of Easter and Passover over-lap; for instance Passover in 2010 lasted from March 29 to April 5 [3] and Easter for Christians was on April 4. However, nobody said "Happy holidays" despite the fact that 2 major religions were both celebrating holidays at that time. Instead, one either said "Happy Passover" or "Happy Easter," and if the person receiving the greeting did not celebrate either/or holiday, then they would simply make a correction if they felt so inclined. No harm no foul.

5. Con says, "Just because we can say it [Merry Christmas] doesn't man that we should say it or that it is better or more respectful." Once again, the exact same thing can be said about "Happy holidays." Con also has not shown why saying "Merry Christmas" is disrespectful. Also, I don't think that saying "Happy holidays" is more respectful simply because it includes the holiday of one other faith (Judaism) - especially because it implies that one is either Christian or Jewish, as if no other religion or belief system exists.

6. Con notes that 52% of Americans feel offended by the saying, "Merry Christmas." However, this statistic should hold absolutely no weight. For one, CON NEVER CITED THIS SOURCE meaning we have no incentive to believe him. Second, 83% of Americans identify as Christian [4] ... so how can Con's statistic be true?! If more than 8 out of 10 people are Christian, then how can more than 5 out of 10 feel offended by the phrase, "Merry Christmas?" I Google'd this statistic and could not find it anywhere [5].

However, I did find that Rasmussen Reports reported 69% of Americans usually greet each other with "Merry Christmas" anyway [6] and since most people are Christian, many actually get offended when people say "Happy holidays" to them instead. In fact, "A 2005 survey by Pew Research found that 42 percent of Americans preferred the "Merry Christmas" greeting over the non-religious "Seasons Greetings." But 45 percent of Americans said it did not matter what greeting they received" [7]. The same source expresses how political correctness should never trump our first amendment right to free speech, which is what I was explaining in Point 1 and how I countered Con's argument.

Conclusion: Con ends by saying that "Happy holidays" is more appropriate because while both terms are inclusive and exclusive, the phrase "H H" includes more people. However, I've already explained two things. One - Since 83% of Americans are Christian, it's really not THAT more inclusive. Two - Since all other holidays are ignored, and Atheists do not fit into either category, Con is essentially saying "Well it's okay if we make the Muslims feel left out so long as we include the Christians, Jews and Africans." This presents a double standard and does not solve the dilemma that there will be people left out and/or offended either way. In that case, it's best to let people say whichever phrase they prefer -- probably "Merry Christmas" since most people are Christian -- and be open minded if others get offended at people's right to free speech.

Thank you and good luck!

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org...
[4] http://abcnews.go.com...
[5] http://www.google.com...
[6] http://www.associatedcontent.com...
[7] http://my.journalstar.com...
Debate Round No. 3
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by Danielle 6 years ago
Danielle
Duh Vi. It's only a big deal when *I* do it.
Posted by Vi_Veri 6 years ago
Vi_Veri
debateboy, wtf? and Marauder, wtf?
Posted by Qetzlcoatl 6 years ago
Qetzlcoatl
I was trying to take this debate, but I wasn't ready to get my @$$ handed to me.
Posted by frenchmoose 6 years ago
frenchmoose
mongeese lies
Posted by mongeese 6 years ago
mongeese
I imagine that it would be tough to explain why atheists and Muslims should say "Merry Christmas," but good luck.
Posted by Danielle 6 years ago
Danielle
I'm a fast reader :P
Posted by Cody_Franklin 6 years ago
Cody_Franklin
Lwerd!!!! Nooooooooo!!! I was going to take this one. Damn you.
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