Working at the Strong Museum of Play, we have many guests of different religious backgrounds. As I was getting ready to close the play Wegmans last Saturday, I waited at the door as guests were leaving. As families were leaving I wished them a “Happy Holiday.” After I said this, the father of the family turned around, grabbed my arm, and said, “I think you mean Merry Christmas.” Surprised at what happened, I simply said, “If that is the holiday that you celebrate, then yes, sir, Merry Christmas.” And with that our closing announcement went off and they left.
People can be very protective of their religious practices during the holiday season. Various holidays from many religions are celebrated in December. Christmas is the traditional holiday that we all commonly hear about. It is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Mostly Christians and non-Christians celebrate this holiday, giving and receiving gifts from many loved ones. But it’s not the only holiday that is celebrated at this time of year.
People of the Jewish faith celebrate Hanukkah at this same time of year. It is celebrated for 8 days and 8 nights and each night they light a candle on a menorah. Some people also may not know that Hanukkah celebrates the victory of the Maccabees, a rebel Jewish army, over the Greek-Syrian ruler, Antiochus about 2200 years ago.
Another holiday commonly celebrated in December is Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is mostly celebrated by African Americans for 7 nights. They use it to help them reconnect with their roots. The celebration corresponds with 7 principles including unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith.
There has been a big controversy about people saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Let's all be mindful of others and stop and think that maybe they don't celebrate Christmas and say “Happy Holidays” instead, especially if we're not sure about what holiday they may celebrate.