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What Is In A Greeting?

What Is In A Greeting?

One would think that an all-inclusive seasonal greeting emblematic of our nation’s religious diversity would be embraced by us all with two simple words—Happy Holidays! For the past decade now, when this season rolls around we can always count on a yearly kerfuffle concerning this holiday.

Last year "The Kelly File," Fox News Channel host Megyn Kelly ignited a conflagration when she stated that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white. Kelly's assertion was a response to Aisha Harris’s (African American, and "Slate" culture blogger) contestation that the commercial image of Santa Claus, in this day and age, should no longer be a white man, but rather a penguin.

"Two decades later, America is less and less white, but a melanin-deficient Santa remains the default in commercials, mall casting calls, and movies. Isn’t it time that our image of Santa better serve all the children he delights each Christmas?... I propose that America abandon Santa-as-fat-old-white-man and create a new symbol of Christmas cheer. From here on out, Santa Claus should be a penguin," Harris wrote in her blog.

While Kelly backpedaled on her assertion that Jesus is white, she remained, however, both unwavering and unapologetic in her claim about Santa. “For all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white.”

For Kelly the incontrovertible evidence she cited was the 1947 Hollywood classic “Miracle on 34th Street,” and the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. But the real St. Nicholas (the Christian saint who inspired Santa Claus) hailed from Turkey.

The kerfuffle concerning Christmas is also right here in my backyard. In 2012 the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) in Braintree, MA had to take down their Christmas ornaments when an irate customer complained. The customer stated it was insensitive of RMV, who services people of all religious faiths, to highlight only Christmas.

Also that year  the governor of Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee, tried to avoid the controversy he generated  (calling the state house Christmas tree a ‘holiday tree’) by having a surprise holiday tree lighting. His office gave just 30 minutes notice.The Daily Mail reported, "The governor defended his decision by arguing that it is in keeping with the state’s founding in 1636 by religious dissident Roger Williams as a haven for tolerance—where government and religion were kept separate."
The decorated evergreen coniferous tree that has come to be known as the Christmas tree began