‘Happy hol­i­days’ is lump of coal to ma­jor­ity

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY VIC­TOR MOR­TON

In the an­nual bat­tle over “Merry Christ­mas” and “Happy hol­i­days,” speci­ficity wins out again.

A sur­vey re­leased right be­fore Christ­mas by the Marist Poll showed that 61 per­cent of Amer­i­cans pre­ferred the “Merry Christ­mas” greet­ing, against just 35 per­cent who thought “Happy hol­i­days” is more ap­pro­pri­ate. The re­main­der said they were un­sure.

“When it comes to hol­i­day greet­ings, about six in 10 Amer­i­cans want to throw po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness out the win­dow,” the Marist poll­sters wrote.

The pref­er­ence for “Merry Christ­mas” was con­sis­tent across nearly ev­ery de­mo­graphic group — both sexes, all in­come and ed­u­ca­tion lev­els, ev­ery re­gion of the coun­try — with per­cent­ages in the high 50s or low 60s.

How­ever, there was one sig­nif­i­cant dis­sent­ing group: youths. Amer­i­cans ages 18 to 29 pre­ferred “Happy hol­i­days” by a mar­gin of 55 per­cent to 39 per­cent, while ev­ery age group 30 and older fa­vored “Merry Christ­mas” by mar­gins of al­most 2-to1 or more.

Rob Sch­warzwalder, se­nior vice pres­i­dent at the Fam­ily Re­search Coun­cil, agreed that one cause of such a gap likely is Amer­i­can so­ci­ety’s in­creas­ingly ir­re­li­gious cul­ture.

“The in­flu­ence of a sec­u­lar cul­ture that is of­ten hos­tile to Chris­tian faith un­ques­tion­ably has had an ef­fect on younger peo­ple,” he said, though he went on to elab­o­rate that “there is much good news about to­day’s young be­liev­ers, who polls show to be more pro-life than pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions and whose con­cern for those in need mir­rors Christ’s com­pas­sion for the down­trod­den [. . . ] as we com­mu­ni­cate truth in a win­some, clear and per­sua­sive man­ner, many of our youth are lis­ten­ing with open minds and hearts.”

The Marist Poll sur­veyed 1,029 adults from Dec. 2-8 and has an er­ror mar­gin of 3 per­cent­age points for the over­all find­ings and higher num­bers for sub­groups.

The find­ings mir­ror sim­i­lar sur­veys, even when the ques­tion was specif­i­cally phrased in terms of how busi­nesses should greet their cus­tomers.

Ras­mussen Re­ports found in a tele­phone sur­vey of 1,000 adults taken Nov. 20-21 that 72 per­cent of adults “pre­fer stores to show signs say­ing Merry Christ­mas [in­stead of] Happy hol­i­days,” while just 22 per­cent pre­fer the lat­ter op­tion.

A sur­vey re­leased two weeks ago by the Pub­lic Re­li­gion Re­search In­sti­tute (PRRI) found sim­i­lar re­sults, though by a much smaller mar­gin. The sur­vey of 1,105 Amer­i­cans taken Dec. 9-12 asked whether “stores and busi­nesses should greet their cus­tomers with ‘Happy Hol­i­days’ or ‘Sea­son’s Greet­ings’ in­stead of ‘Merry Christ­mas’ out of re­spect for peo­ple of dif­fer­ent faiths, or not.”

Just 44 per­cent pre­ferred the generic ref­er­ences, while 49 per­cent said stores should say “Merry Christ­mas” and 7 per­cent did not know.

The “war on Christ­mas” — sto­ries in­volv­ing tak­ing ei­ther “Christ” out of “Christ­mas” or “Christ­mas” out of the “hol­i­days” — have be­come a sta­ple of Novem­ber and De­cem­ber news

Chase Bank cor­po­rate head­quar­ters or­dered a South­lake, Texas, branch to re­move a do­nated 9-foot Christ­mas tree for fear of caus­ing of­fense. The com­pany wants to en­sure that dec­o­ra­tions in­clude only what “ev­ery­one is com­fort­able with, re­gard­less of how they cel­e­brate the sea­son,” JPMor­gan Chase spokesman Greg Has­sell told the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Tele­gram.

cov­er­age in re­cent years. Ex­am­ples this year in­clude:

The Amer­i­can Fam­ily As­so­ci­a­tion made out a list this month, af­ter check­ing it twice, of re­tail­ers who use terms like “hol­i­days” over terms like “Christ­mas.” “AFA has re­viewed the web­site and news­pa­per ads of Ra­dio Shack, Of­fice De­pot and Sta­ples. We found terms like ‘hol­i­day deals,’ ‘hol­i­day prices,’ ‘gifts’ and ‘happy hol­i­days,’ but no ‘Christ­mas,’ ” the con­ser­va­tive fam­ily-val­ues group wrote.

Chase Bank cor­po­rate head­quar­ters or­dered a South­lake, Texas, branch to re­move a do­nated 9-foot Christ­mas tree for fear of caus­ing of­fense.

The com­pany wants to en­sure that dec­o­ra­tions in­clude only what “ev­ery­one is com­fort­able with, re­gard­less of how they cel­e­brate the sea­son,” JPMor­gan Chase spokesman Greg Has­sell told the Fort Worth (Texas) StarTele­gram.

Also this month, the Fed­eral Re­serve told Payne County Bank, as part of its qua­dren­nial in­spec­tion, that the Ok­la­homa bank could not dis­play re­li­gious signs and sym­bols that in­cluded a daily Bi­ble verse, but­tons with the phrase “Merry Christ­mas, God With Us,” and crosses on pub­lic coun­ters.

They said the “dis­cour­age­ment clause” in bank reg­u­la­tions meant that these sym­bols in­di­cated of­fense and dis­crim­i­na­tion to Mus­lims, Jews or oth­ers. Af­ter a pub­lic out­cry, the Fed reg­u­la­tors backed down and al­lowed the Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions to stay un­til the le­gal mat­ters can be clar­i­fied.

Un­like the Marist sur­vey, the PRRI and Ras­mussen polls asked ques­tions about po­lit­i­cal and re­li­gious af­fil­i­a­tion and found sharp di­vides.

“Ninety-one per­cent of Repub­li­cans [. . . ] like store signs that wish them a ‘Merry Christ- mas,’ com­pared to just 58 per­cent of Democrats,” Ras­mussen wrote.

The PRRI sur­vey found that while 43 per­cent of Amer­i­cans had a fam­ily tra­di­tion in­volv­ing the Gospels’ ac­counts of Je­sus’ birth, nearly as many (40 per­cent) read the Cle­ment Clarke Moore poem “A Visit from St. Ni­cholas” (bet­ter known by its first line, “ ‘Twas the Night be­fore Christ­mas”).

“Cel­e­bra­tions of the birth of Je­sus in Chris­tian­ity have al­ways blended the ex­plic­itly re­li­gious with el­e­ments of the con­tem­po­rary cul­ture,” said Robert P. Jones, PRRI’s chief ex­ec­u­tive. “That roughly equal num­bers of Amer­i­cans both read the story of the birth of Je­sus from the Bi­ble and the story of Santa Claus in ‘ ‘Twas the Night be­fore Christ­mas’ is a con­tin­u­a­tion of that tra­di­tion.”

The co­ex­is­tence of re­li­gion­spe­cific and generic greet­ings was on dis­play Dec. 22 at Pres­i­dent Obama’s news con­fer­ence.

Jake Tap­per of ABC News and Mike Emanuel of Fox News greeted Mr. Obama with a “Merry Christ­mas,” which the pres­i­dent re­cip­ro­cated. When Mr. Obama turned to Dan Loth­ian and the CNN re­por ter wished him “Happy hol­i­days,” the pres­i­dent re­peated those words back. Later, Juan Car­los Lopez of CNN en Es­panol pref­aced his ques­tion with “Feliz Navi­dad,” and Mr. Obama said the same words, Span­ish for “Happy Christ­mas.”

When it came time to end the con­fer­ence with a part­ing greet­ing of his own, what did Mr. Obama say?

“So with that, ev­ery­body, I want to wish you all a merry Christ­mas, happy hol­i­days, happy new year.”

And in the fi­nal words as he walked out, Mr. Obama got in one more lan­guage, Hawai­ian, in telling the press, “Mele ka­liki­maka.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

When ‘Sea­son’s greet­ings’ just doesn’t cut it: Five-year-old Jack Mar­guis leaps from the lap of Santa Claus into the arms of his fa­ther Tech. Sgt. Zachary Mar­quis as he was sur­prised by the ap­pear­ance of his fa­ther after ask­ing Santa to bring him home...

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