Monday, December 27

The "Happy Holidays" Flap

The banning of carols, creches, and Christ from a season that only has a whit of significance precisely because of carols, creches, and Christ is more than a little ironic for all of the obvious reasons. But it is more than a little ironic for all of the not so obvious reasons as well. For instance, the politically-correct season's greeting is now "happy holidays!" This uber-chic replacement for the outre-gauche "merry Christmas" is itself fraught with difficulty. It is a difficulty that has been equally ignored by the well-intended defenders of Christmas tradition and the iconoclastic secular-Scrooges.

The difficulty is simply that the word "holiday" is just an alternate spelling for "Holy Day." According to Samuel Johnson's authoritative English Dictionary, the definitions of "holiday or Holy Day" include:

1. The day of some ecclesiastical festival within Christendom;

2. An anniversary feast day on the Christian liturgical calendar;

3. A day of gaiety and joy in light of Gospel truth;

4. A rare occurence of God's grace.

Replete with example quotations and epigrams from Shakespeare, Milton, Ainsworth, Walker, Dryden, and Pope, Johnson's definitions highlight the great irony of modern disputes about language, culture, history, and worldview: we are so ignorant of language, culture, history, and worldview that it is all too common for both sides of an argument to actually miss the point of the argument.

The next time Target, the ACLU, Macy's, and the public schools decide to play the role of Grinch to sweep into Whoville in an effort to steal away every vestige of Christian civilization, they probably ought to do their homework a little more thoroughly. And the next time some well-intentioned Christian decides to defend us all from such cultural conspiracies, perhaps they ought to do their homework as well.

The whole flap rather smacks of one of Johnson's illustrative epigrams from Dryden, "Courage, like intelligence, is but a holiday kind of virtue, only seldomly exercised."

Ho ho ho! Happy Holy Days, indeed.

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