Home for the Holidays

Why Can’t We Say “Merry Christmas” Anymore?

By Susan Braverman

Recognizing there are many holiday traditions which take place in December, we’re introducing a special “Home for the Holidays” blog series. This week’s post begins the series, which will continue to the end of the year.

’Tis the Season! What exactly does this mean? For most Canadians, including myself, it means that Christmas – the busiest time of year for many retail businesses – is coming! We all know that as soon as American Thanksgiving is over, our senses are flooded with Christmas advertising and countdowns, telling us what to buy and where to find it. Many around the world observe and recognize this day as a time of giving gifts to one another and family gatherings, as well as a time of reflecting joy, hope, peace, and kindness.

According to Statistics Canada findings, Canadians celebrate holy days in December, with:

  • 67.3% of Canadians reporting affiliation with a Christian religion (Christmas);
  • 1.1% of Canadians reporting affiliation with a Buddhist religion (Bodhi Day), and
  • 1.0% of Canadians reporting affiliation with a Jewish religion (Hanukkah).

As someone who never shies away from speaking my heart and mind, here’s my point of view: We, as Canadians, are privileged beyond words to live in the best country in the world. Personally speaking, I am very proud to say that Canada is my home because we are well-known for embracing diversity, multiculturalism, as well as freedom of expression, and we have a global reputation for valuing compassion, democracy, opportunity, and peace.

Multicultural Day at Sacred Heart School of Halifax in Nova Scotia

As a multicultural nation, Canada is built on values such as respect, and we enjoy the freedom to practice our own traditions and faith, including Christmas. So, my question is: Why can’t we say “Merry Christmas” anymore? December 25 is Christmas Day, so let’s not pretend it isn’t. Canadians observe Christmas Day as a statutory holiday, and on that day, schools and businesses are closed – except for some gas stations, Chinese restaurants, and corner stores.

Spotted and shared this message on my Facebook page

I grew up with a Jewish father and a Christian mother, so even at a young age I understood the meaning of freedom of religion and the importance of respecting diverse traditions. For as long as I can remember, we always had a Christmas tree, which we called the Hanukkah bush! The lights on our house were white, making them the same colour as candles on the Menorah. Every year, at the store and office, we set up Christmas trees and decorations and we greet our customers with “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays.”

Our Christmas tree at The Flag Shop Vancouver store.

To honour and recognize holiday traditions in December, we hope you’ll enjoy the “Home for the Holidays” series. Let’s all collectively celebrate the joy and wonder of the season.

Stay tuned over the coming weeks as we feature celebrations including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and others…

Happy Holidays!

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