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Word Play: Happy Holidays

christmas word play Dec 21, 2020

Happy Holidays!

Don’t worry. I’m not using that phrase because it is now the politically-correct thing to do these days. I know only too well that the banning of carols, crèches, and Christ from a season that only has a whit of significance precisely because of carols, crèches, and Christ is more than a little ironic for all of the obvious reasons.

But I also think that it is more than a little ironic for all of the not so obvious reasons as well.

The current uber-chic and acceptably-woke season’s greeting, “Happy Holidays,” as a replacement for the outre-gauche “Merry Christmas” is actually fraught with difficulty.

The difficulty is simply that the word holiday is just an alternate spelling for Holy-Day.

According to Samuel Johnson’s authoritative English Dictionary, the definitions of holiday or Holy-Day include:

“1. The day of some ecclesiastical festival within Christendom; 2. An anniversary feast day on the Christian liturgical calendar; 3. A day of gaiety and joy in light of Gospel truth; 4. A rare occurrence of God's grace.”

Replete with example quotations and epigrams from William Shakespeare, John Milton, Henry Ainsworth, John Dryden, and Alexander Pope, Johnson’s definitions highlight the great irony of modern disputes about language, culture, history, and worldview: we are so ill-informed of language, culture, history, and worldview that it is all too common for both sides of an argument to actually miss the point of the argument.

So, the next time Christmas-naysayers decide to play the role of the Grinch sweeping into Whoville in an effort to steal away every vestige of Christian civilization, we can simply smile—with all the guilelessness of Cindy-Lou Who.

Meanwhile they probably ought to do their homework a little more thoroughly. This whole Christ-less Christmas flap rather smacks of one of Johnson's illustrative epigrams from Dryden, “Courage, like intelligence, is but a holiday kind of virtue, only seldomly exercised.”

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

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