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Home News Laura Keynes: A message to the ‘multi-cultis' – just say Happy Christmas

Laura Keynes: A message to the ‘multi-cultis’ – just say Happy Christmas

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Here is my open letter to all the people who say “Season’s Greetings” instead of “Happy Christmas”.

Dear friends and acquaintances, local council officers, greetings card manufacturers, social media managers, customer service managers, etc etc,

This year, please don’t wish me “Season’s Greetings”.

Because, you see, I’ve noticed how every year you say “Eid Mubarak!” on your social media platform of choice. I assume it’s to show what a great, inclusive, multi-culti kind of person/organisation you are, because I know you’re actually a secularist. Yet still, every year you come out with “Eid Mubarak” even though you say you’re “not religious”. It’s very big of you to wish your Muslim neighbours a happy festival in terms they can appreciate.

And so, I’m always a bit surprised when Hanukkah comes around and you stay remarkably silent. It must be an oversight, I think to myself. How can it be that this person who wishes to embrace every faith equally, to show their tolerance and marvellous inclusivity, has missed this Jewish festival? Could it be that you equate all Jewish people with the actions of the Israeli government?

I know, my friend, you’re very vocal on the subject of Israel and Palestine, and always filling my news feed with pictures of dead Palestinian children. Maybe that’s why it sticks it your craw to wish Jews “Happy Hanukkah”? Then again, maybe I’m wrong, because I know you’re always saying it’s not anti-Semitic to criticise Israel, ergo you’re not anti-Semitic. Maybe you’re just too busy on Hanukkah to update your social media with a simple “Happy Hanukkah!”?

But what I really don’t get is why you can’t bring yourself to wish your Christian friends and neighbours a “Happy Christmas”. It’s a simple thing. If you can extend the respect to your Muslim friends to wish them “Eid Mubarak” using the terms of their choice, then surely you can do the same for Christians? I mean, we say “Happy Christmas” because it’s a festival about Christ being born. The terminology is quite specific.

What exactly is your problem with the word “Christ”? I’ve noticed that you really can’t bring yourself to say it. You’ll only wish me a tight-lipped “Season’s Greetings”. I find it quite insulting, and a little bit amusing. “Season’s Greetings” is such an anaemic term; it doesn’t really mean anything.

You might be celebrating some kind of pagan winter season, in which case good luck to you, Happy Winter Solstice and all that, but be aware that the reason you’ve got the time off work and the reason you’re having a big meal with family is because this is a Christian feast day and this is still a country governed by the rhythms of the Christian calendar. Don’t pretend it isn’t. If you’re really that bothered about the rest of us celebrating a festival you don’t believe in then you’ve always got the choice to go into the office. Hey, take Darwin Day off instead and celebrate with your secular-atheist mates then. Why not? No one minds these days, in a land where all beliefs are equal.

All I’m saying is, if you’re really that tolerant and multi-culti and inclusive, I’m sure you can find it in your heart to wish a Christian community a “Happy Christmas”.

Otherwise, you end up looking a bit of an uptight hypocrite, just saying: Cheers! Happy holidays/winter season/winterfest…whatevs!

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Laura Keynes
Laura Keynes
Dr Keynes is a Cambridge-based academic, writer and critic with two very young children. She writes for Standpoint magazine, the Catholic Herald and The Tablet. Find her on twitter @LMKeynes.

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