Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Call It What It Is

“Merry Christmas!” said the woman in the hijab.

Having spent much of the holiday season in December in a US work environment, I’m accustomed to the carefully coded holiday greetings there. With Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, and secularism competing for the same airspace, I heard lots of “Season’s Greetings” and “Happy Holidays.” For the politically correct, “Merry Christmas” is virtually extinct.

Since our return to Singapore, though, I’ve been wished a “Merry Christmas” at least half a dozen times - most recently by my favorite nasi padang lady, who wears a Muslim hijab. I would surmise that we are so glib about the phrase because there are few other competing holidays at this time in Singapore. We’ve already passed the Muslim holidays of Hari Raya Puasa and Hari Raya Haji. Deepavali, the Hindu festival of lights, ended two weeks ago. Chinese New Year isn’t for another six weeks. So now, we say “Merry Christmas” because it is Christmas.

With a festive season that runs from October to February each year, people in Singapore would get pretty tired of saying “Happy Holidays” all the time. So here, we call each celebration what it is. All in all, it’s quite refreshing to hear someone wish me “Merry Christmas!”

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

I have to agree with you on this. I've worked hard to move toward "happy holidays" back in the states, but now I'm rethinking it. Christmas is a Merry time, a fun holiday, and deserving of its own greeting. Here, people enjoy each holiday and as you say, call it what it is. Well spotted, Joey.