Tuesday, January 22, 2008

happy humbug

I'm an atheist, but I have no problem wishing people "Merry Christmas". I enjoy Christmas. This is largely because I get on well with my family and the gathering, eating, drinking and merriment are fun. I'm happy to enjoy the cultural aspects without ascribing religion to the occasion. Maybe this is hypocritical -- I have no idea.

I have to say, though, that the American "Happy Holidays" grates on me. Some political correctness has its merits and should not be tarred with the condesencion that the term "politically correct" has come to imply. Some political correctness seems patrician and worse than the "crime" it's trying to counter.

This was reinforced as I boarded the plane to fly back to the Philippines from Bangladesh last December. The airline staff -- who were almost certainly Muslim -- wished me a Merry Christmas. I know Christ was a prophet of Islam, but as far as I know, "Merry Christmas" isn't a typical Muslim greeting (though I may be wrong). If members of a devoutly Islamic country are OK with "Merry Christmas", surely the majority of Americans can handle it?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dunno really...about labeling americans thusly. Happy Holidays was so common back in the 70's in the US even in the bible belt areas that a great many of those cheesy office decorations said it.....and that was at a time when you simply didnt declare yourself to be an atheist in public.

But whatever, we all learn to ignore it...living in the Phils is just another thing to get used to. They see a gringo and assume christian. I quit trying to correct them and generally just smile and nod and make sure thats not the meat of the conversation.

6:32 am  
Blogger secret wombat said...

Fair call - I shouldn't assume that 'happy holidays' is recent PC-ishness. Still grates though. Know exactly what you mean re: Filipinos assuming I am Christian (and American). I have the same sort of response (except if in a grumpy mood and the Hey Joes get under my skin).

7:00 am  

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