Happy Holidays – sounds good to me!

One of the nice things about being “of a certain age,” in addition to being able to call impertinent functionaries “son,” is that you’ve paid your social dues and can speak your own mind with a temerity not extended to younger people.

It is in this vein that I have taken an unnatural delight this year in wishing everyone “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.” Granted, Chanukah is now over, and if I had gotten my X-mas cards (foolin’ with you there!) out earlier I could have included it, but we still have Kwanza to go, and everyone celebrates the New Year, if only by deciding which promotional calendar to hang on the refrigerator that houses all the food that must be eaten before the ritual New Year’s diet can begin.

I think I’ve left a holiday out of my list. Ummmm … Yes! December 25! Birthday of Dionysus! No? How about Attis, the Phrygian God from Asia Minor? Mithra of Persia? None of these?

How about Jesus? Bingo!

Not too many Mithra cards for sale at the Hallmark store these days, but maybe there should be. The born of a virgin, welcomed by three wise men, died and then rose again story is not at all unique in the ancient middle east, but then neither is the flood story or the exodus story.

None of the competing stories are mentioned in the Bible for the same reason that the Mithra and Attis stories aren’t mentioned in any of the competing religious traditions. Not only is there unlikely to be “one true religion”; there aren’t even any original ones.

We hear a lot about the “War on Christmas,” but what about the rest of the religious figures who share this happy time of the year?

Happy Holidays, everyone!

About Betsy Murphy

Betsy Murphy teaches economics and mathematics at the Columbia campus of Central Methodist University. Her humor has been published in several anthologies and even in a few technical publications in her field. 

6 Responses to “Happy Holidays – sounds good to me!”

  1. Greg Lammers

    Going to try calling some younger male “son” this weekend. Thanks for the suggestion.

    I’ve been using “Happy Holidays” or “Have a nice holiday” for years. I don’t know which, if any, holidays everyone I come into contact with celebrates. I figure those are fairly safe lazy options.

    Wishes of “Merry Christmas” are nice, except on the occasions that it’s spit as an insistent jab rather than as a genuine kindness. Don’t think I’ve had anyone spit Chanukah or Kwanzaa at me.

    Enjoyed the post Betsy, have a happy whatever. :)

  2. Betsy Murphy

    Thanks, Greg – someone in my writing group reminded me today that the Romans celebrated Saturnalia around this time as well, so add that to the list of eligible festivities.

    Have fun calling the youngsters ‘son’ over the holiday season – if they balk, remind them that they too will get their turn someday.

    Happy Holidays!

  3. kris katarian

    Hi Betsy, appreciate your post. I’ve thought for a long time that the Jesus story seems to parallel, in many ways, the Greek, Roman, and Norse mythologies.

  4. wrdickson

    I like to think of this holiday as Axial Tilt Day, celebrating the reason for the season.

  5. Betsy Murphy

    Thanks Kris and wrdickson – Axial Tilt Day (and the shortest day of the year) may go a long way to explaining why so many religions have celebrations during this time of the year: cold, dark weather just cries out for some livening up. As for the parallel mythologies, why tinker with success: If your religion can pull off the impossible (virgin birth, death and resurrection, etc.), then so can mine, which probably explains why so few religions are ‘founded’ by fat, bald, middle-aged insurance salesmen. Happy Holidays to you all, and to all a good night!

  6. Kris Katarian

    Let’s not forget George Costanza’s father’ holiday creation: Festivus…for the rest of us!


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