Happy Holidays

We arrived in the United States in mid December, a week before Christmas (Xmas). Driving through the streets of New Jersey you can't possibly ignore all the decorations and all the lights, giant Santas, and occasionally a full forest of animals and other creatures in full neon. Everyone is in a good mood and seems to be looking forward to the event.

The rules in the workplace have changed too, at least at Novartis, the company I work for. Where people used to get a few days off, they now get an entire week off, but some other bank holidays were taken off the calendar in exchange (labor day, for example). So there are even more reasons now for looking forward to it.

If you call up a company, for example our relocation agency, they would greet you with "Happy Holidays. This is Prefered Relocation. How may I help you?" All the shops carry signs and decorations wishing you "Happy Holidays." Someone walking in to my barber's, Eddie's barber shop in Florham Park, would greet everyone with "Happy Holidays."

After a while I remembered that there used to be a different word up until a few years ago: Xmas (or Christmas). It can not be spotted anywhere any more, no matter how hard you try. It looks as if someone used a word processor and did a search and replace: every "Merry Xmas" has become "Happy Holidays."

Interesting. So why's that? It's the good ol' political correctness striking again. Xmas is a celebration for Christians, which would be only some part of the American public. Holidays are for everyone and you can even celebrate holidays. Celebrating Xmas as a muslim would be more difficult.

As has been found out before, being politically correct can be difficult. A shop in the Livingston Mall in New Jersey offers CDs with "Holiday Music." I checked though and Bing Crosby does not yet sing about "I'm dreaming of a white holiday with every holiday card I write".

It will soon be interesting to see what "happy new year" has turned into, as there are other calendars than just the Gregorian.

Anyway, I wish you "Happy Holidays" and a great time with your family when you exchange holiday presents under the holiday tree.

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