Why are liberals offended by Merry Christmas?

Merry versus Happy: Annual Christmas War in the United States

You can really rely on Glen Echo's Fire Department. Here, on the outskirts of Washington, the local fire department's Christmas postcard is in the mailbox in mid-December. It shows a fire station with a brick-red facade and a snow-covered roof, with photogenic icicles on the edge of the roof. Although this does not exactly correspond to the local reality, because in December there is very little snow in and around Washington, but the photo is good. The whole thing is connected with the request not to forget the volunteer fire brigade when donating: "Your dollars enable us to be there for you." In addition, a line that is better reproduced in the original: "Wishing you a happy and safe holiday season."

"Happy Holidays!" - Everyone can feel addressed with this, which is why America's department stores also orientate themselves on this greeting. Since you usually don't look at people's beliefs, the salespeople are urged to just shout "Happy Holidays" after their customers - happy holidays. That can never be wrong. Regardless of whether the customers are caught in the Advent fever, whether they are celebrating Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of lights, or Kwanzaa, an African-American celebration founded in 1966 at which candles are also lit: It actually always fits.

Only Christian-conservative America does not agree with this, which is why it complains about the dictates of the politically correct, about the everyday line "Happy Holidays", so that one does not offend anywhere with a "Merry Christmas".

Fairy lights orgies ...

Christmas is the time when the US celebrates true orgies of fairy lights, especially opulently on 34th Street in Baltimore, where the row houses are literally shrouded from top to bottom in garlands of light bulbs depicting not just the usual reindeer, sleigh, and snowman, but in in one case there was also a crab, the unofficial heraldic animal of the state of Maryland.

Christmas is also the time of bizarre word battles, because every year a war breaks out reliably: "The War on Christmas". For a long time, the very conservative TV presenter Bill O’Reilly marched on the front line, ensuring that his thesis that Christmas was "under siege" spread like a battle cry in the ranks of his fans.

At Christmas time, O'Reilly was allowed to rail against the Happy Holidays nonsense on the also very conservative news broadcaster Fox News before he had to vacate his studio chair because he had concealed the fact that he had paid five women a total of $ 13 million in hush money to avoid threatening Preventing sexual assault lawsuits.

O’Reilly once said that the Liberals wanted to turn Christmas into a secular festival because they wanted a new America where there was no longer any room for traditional Christmas. Five months before he was kicked out, he solemnly announced that the Christmas war had now been decided: "The good guys have won" - because now Donald Trump has taken on the matter.

... Trump’s Christmas trees ...

That was in December 2016, one month after the real estate tycoon's election victory. He had a stage in Wisconsin decorated with a long row of brightly decorated Christmas trees and celebrated his triumph. Not just the one at the ballot box, but also the one in the Christmas battle. 18 months earlier, at his very first rally in Wisconsin, Trump had promised "that one day we will come back and say 'Merry Christmas' again".

The president now flies to the province at least once every December to celebrate a Christmas rally. That year he was in Battle Creek, Michigan, where he did not strike a harmonious note, but railed against an opposition that was so eaten by envy that they tried to remove him from office.

Christmas in America, it can be a very serious, very controversial matter. There is the American Family Association, based in Tupelo, Mississippi, which sees itself as a guardian. She watches over which business chain - she means literally - is "cheeky" and which is "good"; which celebrates Christmas appropriately in its advertising and which neglects Christianity.

The Starbucks coffee house chain regularly receives a reprimand because the pre-Christmas mugs are far too arbitrary according to the taste of the evangelical guardians. The company makes only sparse use of the word Christmas, "perhaps in a single product description, but not by making a commitment as a company," it says, to give another example, through the drugstore chain Walgreens.

Even the Happy Holidays community sometimes overshoots the mark: Jennifer Sinclair, director of the Manchester Elementary School in Elkhorn, Nebraska, banned anything that reminds of Christmas in her school twelve months ago. This included Santa Claus, reindeer, elves, Christmas trees, Christmas melodies, Christmas films; also everything that is kept in the colors red and green. Also on the index: the red and white candy canes. Their curved shape is reminiscent of the "J" in Jesus. Sinclair gave the green light for polar bears, penguins, yetis, sledges, hot cocoa and Olaf, the talking snowman from the cartoon Frozen. After an avalanche of parental protests, both the list was collected and the headmistress was transferred.

... and seven-armed candlesticks

The airport administration in Seattle had nine Christmas trees removed from the terminals years ago because it had heard the rumor that Orthodox Jews could sue them. Instead of asking the potential plaintiffs whether that was true, the fir trees simply disappeared. Whereupon the Orthodox Jews made it clear that they had been misunderstood: There was nothing wrong with the trees, they just wanted a menorah, the seven-armed candlestick, to be added.

Then there is the civil rights league ACLU, lighthouse of liberal America, separating state from religion. She once defended the rights of a prisoner who wanted to organize a Christmas community prayer. As long as the state did not itself promote a particular faith, it was argued, nothing should stand in the way of such a prayer.

But then the fronts in the Christmas War are looser than one might assume. Especially since most Americans see all of this as mock battles. According to a survey by the Pew Institute, 32 percent favor the formula "Merry Christmas", while 15 percent prefer the harmless "Happy Holidays". A majority, 52 percent, can live with any variant. The Glen Echo volunteer fire brigade is just as pragmatic. On the back of the Christmas card it says, as a small concession to the Merry Christmas group: "Santa Claus is coming!" (Frank Herrmann from Washington, December 24th, 2019)