Happy New Year!
“Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays”? Many people have a pretty strong opinion on this one so I decided to do some research so here are a some VERY interesting tidbits. I found this article written by Bill Ruh. Thought you might find it intriguing enough to bring as fodder to your next sequin slathered holiday function….
“The Question of the Week was about Christmas and what terms should be utilized; Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas. It might help to have a background on the derivations of both phrases:
To understand the meaning behind Happy Holiday(s) and Merry Christmas, one must look at the origin of the words. The word holiday is a compound stemming from the words holy and day. The word “holiday” first surfaced in the 1500s replacing the earlier word “haliday” which was recorded before 1200 in the Old English book Ancrene Riwle. Earlier, about 950, the word was “haligdaeg” and appeared in the Old English Lindisfarne Gospels. It was a compound of the Old English “halig” (holy) plus “daeg” (day). Originally the word meant a religious festival and a day of recreation, free from labor and toil. As the English language and pronunciations changed the word evolved into our modern “holiday.” To wish someone a Happy Holiday was to wish them happiness for a singular day of religious significance “Happy Holy Day.” To wish someone “Happy Holidays” was to wish them happiness for the many Holy Days in a particular cycle of the Christian calendar, such as Advent. Advent is a cycle in the Christian calendar which includes Christmas and concludes on the Feast of the Epiphany. Therefore, then or now, to wish someone “Happy Holidays” is to wish them happiness from the first night of Advent through the Feast of the Epiphany, including Christmas.
The word for Christmas in late Old English is Cristes Maesse, the Mass of Christ, first found in 1038, as Cristes-messe. Cristes-messe referred directly to the specific date set aside for the Mass of Christ, a commemoration of the birth of Christ. The word became “Christ Mass” in Middle English and then “Christmas” in modern English. To wish someone “Merry Christ Mass” or “Christmas” was to wish them to be filled with joy on the singular day set aside to recognize the birth of Christ.
Both of these greetings have deep religious significance. In a very technical sense perhaps “Happy Holidays” has the greater significance as it wishes one happiness for the entire period of Advent, while Merry Christmas sends a greeting for only one day during that period, the day of the Mass of Christ.”
Bill signed off by saying that his personal preference was to say “Merry Christmas”.
I also discovered that there are 32 international holidays between November 24th & January 6th for 6 of the world’s major religions. This is not discount the others…just starting off with 6 for now which is already a huge concept for some…these dates are for 2016 as the calendars shift slightly each year:
Nov. 24: Thanksgiving (USA); University Holiday; Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur. The Sikhs commemorate the martyrdom of their ninth Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur for refusing to convert to Islam.
Nov. 25: University Holiday
Nov. 26: Day of Covenant (Baha’i). Celebrates the covenant of Baha’u’llah and the life of ‘Abdu’l-Baha on this day.
November 28: Ascension of Adbu’l-Baha (Baha’i). Marks the death of the son of Baha’u’llah.
Nov. 27-Dec.24: Advent Sunday, Christians prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Advent begins on the Sunday nearest November 30 and is the beginning of the Christian worship year. This festival is marked by lighting candles, laying wreaths, and special advent ceremonies. These celebrations continue until Dec. 24.
Nov. 30: Saint Andrew’s Day is celebrated in honor of Saint Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, Greece and Russia.
Dec. 1: World AIDS Day. This day has become an annual day of recognition of AIDS to: remember those who have died, acknowledge the need for continued commitment to care for those who are HIV/AIDS-positive, and to support the research to find a cure.
Dec. 6: Saint Nicholas Day (Christian). Celebration of the birth of Saint Nicolas, patron saint of children and the role model for gift giving. Many churches are named for this saint who is also the Dutch version of Santa Claus.
Dec. 8: Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Celebrated by Roman Catholics to commemorate the Virgin Mary’s conception as being without sin and therefore immaculate.
Bodhi Day. Buddhists commemorate Siddhartha Gautama’s attainment of enlightenment under the Bodhi tree at Bodhgaya, India. Siddhartha Gautama was a sage on whose teachings Buddhism was founded.
Dec. 10: International Human Rights Day. Established by the United Nations in 1948, it commemorates the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Dec. 12: Eid Milad UnNabi (Islam). Commemoration of the birthday of the Holy Prophet (pbuh). This is the date most celebrated although it is celebrated on different dates in India and Pakistan.
Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Day observed by catholic Christians commemorating the legendary appearance of the Virgin Mary near Mexico City in 1531 c.e.
Advent. Fast Begins (Orthodox Christian).
Dec. 16-24: Las Posadas. Also known as Navidenas (Mexico-Christians), this festival includes processions and parties reenacting Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem.
Dec. 21: Winter Solstice. The first day of winter occurs on or around December 22 and is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. Yule (Christians); Yule (Wicca-Northern Hemisphere); Litha (Wicca-Southern Hemisphere).
Dec. 24-January 1: Chanukah, also known as Hanukkah (Jewish). Also known as the Festival of Lights, this is an eight-day festival recalling the war fought by the Maccabees in the cause of religious freedom and the rededication of the temple after recapturing it from the Syrians. Each evening candles are lit on the “menorah” (candelabra), adding one candle each night. Hanukkah is a time for playing games and singing, for visiting and for giving gifts.
Dec. 24: Christmas Eve
Dec. 25: Christmas (Christian). The day associated with the birth of Jesus. It is celebrated on December 25 by Western churches and on January 7 of the following year by Eastern Orthodox churches.
Dec. 26 University Holiday
Dec. 26-Jan. 1: Kwanzaa. This is an African-American holiday started by Mailana Karenga, an African world scholar, in 1966. It is based on the agricultural celebrations of Africa called “the first fruits” celebrations, which are times of harvest, gathering, reverence, commemoration, and recommitment. Therefore, Kwanzaa is a time for achievements, reverence for the Creator and creation, commemoration of the past, recommitment to cultural ideals, and celebration of the good. Kwanzaa, a Swahili word, means “first.” Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday, not a religious one, thus available to and practiced by Africans of all religious faiths.
Dec. 28: Holy Innocents Day. Christian day of solemn memory of male children killed by King Herod in the attempt to destroy Jesus.
Dec. 31: Watch Night (Christian). Occasion to thank God for bringing people safely through another year.
Jan. 1: New Year’s Day (Traditional). Observed in all countries that follow the Gregorian or Western/Christian calendar; University Holiday; Gantan Sai also known as Shogatu (Shinto). New Year festival popularly celebrated in Japan and observed with prayers for inner renewal of hearts, good health, and prosperity. Celebrants wear their best clothes and visit shrines in large numbers. During the seven days of the holiday, people visit one another’s homes to offer good wishes for the New Year.
St. Basil’s Feast Day (Greek Orthodox Christian). The New Year is celebrated to commemorate the kindness and generosity of St. Basil toward the poor. St. Basil was the forefather of the Greek Orthodox Church.
Jan. 4:Holy Name of Jesus (Catholic Christian). This is celebrated on the first Sunday of the year, but if this Sunday falls on January 1, 6, or 7, it is celebrated on January 2.
Jan. 5: Twelfth Night (Christian). Observance of the close of Christmastide and prelude to the Epiphany which begins the next day.
Guru Gobindh Singh’s Birthday (Sikh). He was the last of the ten Gurus. Each year on this date (according to the Nanakshahi calendar) his birthday is celebrated with a Sikh festival that is a religious celebration in which prayers for prosperity are offered.
Jan. 6: Epiphany (Three Kings Day—Dia de los Reyes). Celebrated twelve days after Christmas, it marks the visit of the three wise men to the baby Jesus.
Goodness gracious!?! That’s a lot more than I thought you’d ever sit through and read!
So look, it’s pretty obvious to me that a whole lot is going on simultaneously for a whole lot of folks both in my neighborhood and all over the world. A lot more than Christmas and it seems to me that for the most part, we’re all looking to celebrate Love and Life in all it’s forms.
From the bottom of my heart, I wish you and yours HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!!!!!