What to write for Holiday greetings without upsetting religious apple carts

In our increasingly multi-religious – or not – world, sending seasonal greetings gets ever more political every year, as you know. As you may well be sitting here writing out (or clicking through) your Christmas cards/eCards, here are a few thoughts you might like to chew over.

What to write for Holiday greetings without upsetting religious apple carts

Can we make Holiday greetings truly multi-denominational?

Some religions (predominantly based in the northern hemisphere) have celebrations vaguely around the Winter Solstice in December – Christianity and Judaism included.

But that doesn’t help us decide how to tackle our desire to send out greetings if we are either members of, or sort-of abide by, Christian trends at this time of year. Should we or shouldn’t we?

Are our friends, colleagues and clients of other faiths likely to find it offensive if we send them an eCard with images of Santa Claus, the Nativity, etc., etc., all of which stem from the Christian story?

How can we tread the narrow, shaky path between freedom of religious expression and wanting to share the joy of the Festive Season with our friends, colleagues and clients of all faiths, including the non-Christians?

The Winter Solstice may hold the key

According to our good friend Wikipedia … “Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied across cultures, but many have held a recognition of rebirth, involving holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations around that time.”

Wikipedia continues … “The pagan Scandinavian and Germanic people of northern Europe celebrated a twelve-day “midwinter” (winter solstice) holiday called Yule (also called Jul, Julblot, jólablót, midvinterblot, julofferfest). Many modern Christmas traditions, such as the Christmas tree, the Christmas wreath, the Yule log, and others, are direct descendents of Yule customs. Scandinavians still call Yule “Jul”. In English, the word “Yule” is often used in combination with the season “yuletide” [5] a usage first recorded in 900. It is believed that the celebration of this day was a worship of these peculiar days, interpreted as the reawakening of nature. The Yule (Jul) particular god was Jólner, which is one of Odin’s many names.”

A popular time of year to exchange greetings and celebrate

That is an interesting one. Christians admit freely that the birth of Jesus may not actually have happened on December 25th, but rather that the dates stacked up more conveniently this way.

In the Jewish faith, the Hanukkah celebration can take place over quite a sliding selection of dates from very late November to very early January because these are calculated on the basis of the Jewish Lunar calendar.

And history tells us that many earlier cultures and religions felt the need to celebrate something at this darkest point in the northern hemisphere, just as we do now.

Could the answer be humanitarianism – a common Holiday greeting bond?

Yes, I know – here we go back to the Christian notion of “Christmas.”

But let’s face it: what Christianity stands for, or should stand for, is much more about humanitarianism and not very much about history, because the realities of religious history are, to put it mildly, rather fragile. What Christianity and many other religions are about (in my view) is a lot more about metaphor, than it is about fact.

However there is one over-riding common factor: humanitarianism.

And that is a wonderful common denominator that we should all focus on, yes – even in the face of the current atrocities being committed in the name of religion in some parts of the world right now.

A common desire for a Holiday greeting based on basic human values and love

Well, I don’t know about you, but for me it’s any greeting card or email that shares the humanitarian notions of peace, kindness, fraternity and love. Those will just about do me.

What about you?

Please share your views here.

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