1. In President Abraham Lincoln’s A.D. 1863 Thanksgiving Proclamation he asked his fellow Americans to “…set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.”
As of A.D. 2018, Thanksgiving Day is 156 years old and going strong. Thanks indeed be our beneficent Father in heaven. What a blessing to live in a constitutional republic that still has one day set apart for that high and holy purpose. No violation of the First Amendment’s non-establishment clause here!
2. Hanukkah (or Chanukah) is an eight day festival which originated in 165 B.C. at the time of the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucid Empire. Hanukkah commemorates the re-dedication of ancient Judaism’s temple in Jerusalem where the God of the Bible was worshiped in Old Testament times. According to the Gospel of John (10:22) this festival was observed by Jesus Christ.
3. Although we do not know the actual date of Jesus’ birth, the December 25 holiday called Christmas exists because of that birth. (The Santa Claus legend has its origins in the life of a fourth century leader in the Christian Church.) Moreover, the former Occupant of Bethlehem’s renowned manger is smack dab in the center of the whole world’s calendar.
4. Why? Because whether the years before His birth are designated B.C. or “B.C.E.” and the years after His birth called A.D. or “C.E.,” the fact remains that the years are counted backward and forward from the birth of Jesus. Every New Year’s Day is the first day of another year Anno Domini – of our Lord. So Jesus the unique One makes the years of antiquity “Before Common Era.” Jesus the peerless One makes the years since His birth “Common Era.”
Note, this is true even though calendar year A.D. 1 is actually a few years after Christ’s birth. The calendar used universally today is the Gregorian calendar, introduced by Pope Gregory in A.D. 1582. Just what is it about that Man from Galilee that the whole Earth is now reckoning time according to His birth?
Listing these four historical holiday tidbits was occasioned by another list. If was found on Facebook in a meme which included this text:
“I say happy holidays because I don’t always know if the person I am speaking to is Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Wiccan, Navajo, Pagan, Atheist, Pastafarian, Klingon, Jedi, or Scientologist, and I just want to say something nice.”
Let’s think about that. Think word origins…think of the two word term “holy day” changing over time into one word…letter Y becomes letter I, giving us holiday. So a holiday is a holy day, a day set apart for religious observation and/or celebration.
Now let’s think a little further about that list of religions from the meme in connection with what our society calls the holiday season. People of all beliefs agree that in early 21st century America, that season is roughly the time between Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day, as it has been for a long time. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Go ahead, sing it.
Stick with me here. Hanukkah is primarily a Jewish holiday, and Christmas is primarily a Christian holiday. Virtually all Americans observe Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day, even if it is only a day off work for some.
But what holiday, widely recognized by society in general, is observed or celebrated as holy primarily by followers of other religions during the days beginning around late November and ending on January 1, when the expression “Happy Holidays” is used by many?
If the user of that expression is concerned about his or her lack of knowledge of others’ beliefs, how do they know they are not offending followers of those religions by saying “Happy Holidays” since those religions don’t have any holy days –any days set apart for a purpose pertaining to them – during that season?
And if they are consistent with what they believe, followers of the belief system which claims it is not a religion (a-Theism) have no holy days, no holidays, at all. Perhaps we should go with “Happy Nothing Day” every day of the year to make sure we don’t offend them. Hmm…come to think of it, what do a-Theists have to be happy about?
(Maybe their own birthdays? In other words, that day about nine months after some molecules which had turned into two cells which in turn had come together and grown into a non-viable lump of tissue which somehow became something called a baby which would grow up, die, and go back into the darkness of oblivion, birthday candles eternally extinguished. Oh the warm fuzziness of it all!)
Finally, the meme included Navajo in its list. Can a person not be a Buddhist Navajo or a Christian Navajo or a Muslim Navajo, etc? What’s wrong with that part of the picture? How offensive!
So putting this all together, if you say Happy Holidays between Thanksgiving and New Years Day in the good ol’ U.S.A., the John Q. or Jane X. Public whom you so greet will assume you refer to a holy day that our society recognizes (even if some do so begrudgingly or even if some don’t observe it religiously), and which exists in one way or another in honor of the God of the Bible.
So all you out there saluting us your neighbors with Happy Holidays, thanks! And Happy Thanksgiving, or Happy Hanukkah (starts December 2 in A.D. 2018), or Merry Christmas, or Happy New Year back to you!