Abundant Optimism

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Holidays: A Time for Tolerance

By Tamara Martfeld

The holiday season is upon us. Several religions celebrate special holidays at this time of year. Some I am aware of are Christmas, Chanukah, and Winter Solstice. In this article I am using “religion” to refer to any belief system or lack of belief system.

The holidays are celebrated on a given day of the year. If someone wishes you a Merry Christmas, even if you don’t celebrate it, wish them a Merry Christmas in return. Also greet them with whatever greeting is right for you. For example, “Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah”. Who is to say that December 25th cannot be happy for you just because you do not celebrate Christmas? December 24th (according to my calendar) can be equally as happy for those who do not celebrate Chanukah. Winter Solstice can be celebrated by all as it is the shortest day of the year and the days start to get longer instead of shorter after that date. You do not need to have it as part of your religion to celebrate the day.

Holidays should be enjoyable to everyone, not full of the stress of trying not to offend someone else with one’s celebrations. Accepting that others may not worship the same as you and accepting their celebrations while celebrating your own religion will help bring peace in your area of the world.

I truly think some people are offended for the sake of being offended. In my office last year, everyone was instructed to take down anything that mentioned Christmas as someone had complained. Christmas is a Christian holiday as is Easter and St. Patrick’s Day. Decorations for Easter and St. Patrick’s Day were put up without complaint, some decorations even mentioning the occasion. I asked the boss, and the person who made the complaint about Christmas was still there and said nothing about the other celebrations. If the Christian religion was really offensive to the individual, why the inconsistency?

One thing which may help you tolerate other religions is to do a little research about those religions and do not depend on the media. Christmas is not about shopping or even gift giving. It is about Christ’s birthday. I won’t comment on the meaning of other celebrations because my knowledge is enough to satisfy me that they are good celebrations, but not enough to adequately educate others. I have researched many religions enough to know that most practice good and not evil, believe that one should treat others well, and are surprisingly similar if you eliminate the ceremony side of the religion. In other words, if you are not tolerant of all aspects of a given religion, you may be intolerant about some aspects of your own religion.

Do your best to accept everyone’s celebrations and help bring peace to your life and your area of the world. You do not have to believe in a religion to accept that it exists. Your own life will be easier if you no longer fight the existence of the other religions and even better if you do that research I mentioned.

Have a Merry and Happy whatever you celebrate, and have a Merry and Happy whatever you don’t celebrate. Given that there are “holidays” on every day of December (such as Ice Cream Day on the 13th), this is wishing you a Merry and Happy December!