Every year when winter rolls around, homes across Canada light up in festive colours in celebration for many different religious celebrations. While Christmas is by far the most celebrated holiday in North America, many holidays like Hanukkah or Kwannza also take place in the month of December, but in recent years, many people are refusing to great people with their choice of festive greeting, instead deciding to use phrased like ‘happy holidays’. While there is nothing wrong with the saying, it can take away from the common message of unity and peace from the holiday seasons.
For some, use of sayings like ‘happy holidays’ can be considered offensive, but many employers have still set out policies to stop employees from using greetings like ‘Merry Christmas’ or any other religious phrases. While these policies are put in place with good intentions, they can blur the meaning behind the festive season we hold dear.
“We should take (these greetings) in with the good intentions as they were given out” says Imam Abd Al-Fatah Twakkal from the London Muslim Mosque. Twakkal says that he would wish someone a ‘happy holidays!’, and would wish them a joyous celebration if anyone ever gave him a festive greeting. He added that the Muslim celebration of Eid is about surrendering oneself to God, and to be thankful for his blessings for friends and family. He also noted that the Arabic word for Islam is closely related to the word for peace.
But the Imam is not alone in his acceptance of others religious celebrations. Rabbi Catharine Clarke from the Or Shalom congregation and Reverend David Carrothers from the Colborne United Church both agreed with Twakkal that the holiday season should be about Hope, Love and Unity.
“The message is of Hope and Peace” says Reverend Carrothers. “Often times the message gets lost because we try to commercialize it…all of these ways of putting it in a box, when the real joy is the gift itself” says Carrothers.
Rabbi Clarke added that while Hanukkah is still important in modern times, it is not the most important of Jewish holidays, which titles belong to Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah.