A couple years ago a blogger or purveyor of email forwards had many Christians in an uproar about Lowes and other retailers saying “Happy Holidays.”
This is an unfortunate reason for Christians to once again look like we don’t know what we’re talking about.
The etymology of Holidays comes from “Holy Days.” The word originally meant any religious holy days.
According to Wikipedia, “Holiday originally referred only to special religious days. In modern use, it means any special day of rest or relaxation, as opposed to normal days off work or school. The word derived from the notion of “Holy Day,” and gradually evolved to its current form.”
It’s OK for Lowes, businesses, individuals to say Happy Holidays. And we don’t have to boycott or denigrate or think them any less because they do. Say what you want. If you want to wish people Merry Christmas, do so. But Happy Holidays is like saying, “Happy Holy Days.”
The same thing has happened with Halloween. The word comes from “All Hallows Eve.” Hallow means holy. This was and still is the “Eve” of “All Saints Day,” November 1. What many Christian churches have done is to name their events, “Harvest Festival” or “Fall Festival.” Know what? This was what the church was trying to get away from when they designated All Saints Day. Pagans were doing harvest festivals to venerate spirits of the dead, so Christians started their own way of remembering Christian saints.
So now churches have started calling their Holy Eve events the name for pagan ceremonies of old. I understand the spirit of it, but it’s not very wise. Those who Christians want to influence for the cause of Christ who have studied world history, religions, can likely see the irony, and so should we. I understand Christians are trying to put distance between ourselves and the dark side of events like Halloween.
But we also ought to think more deeply about what we believe and not allow email forwards (and blogs like mine, right!) tell us what to think. Think for yourself. Respond to this blog and tell me what you think, but don’t let the blogosphere and email forwards do your theology and thinking for you.