This week at work I received a Happy Holidays card from a supplier. The sentiment was appreciated and I replied thanking them for their work during the year and wishing them a Merry Christmas. It was a large New Zealand company so I asked that they also pass on a brief message to their marketing and communications department.
Our Judeo-Christian cultural and spiritual heritage is precious. It is the foundation on which so much of what we enjoy today has been established. Freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and toleration of other faiths are not natural features of human society. However they have all arisen in countries where the Judeo-Christian faith, its worldview and its values have infused and moulded the culture for centuries.
In light of this why would you denigrate that heritage by actions which undermine the social significance of Christmas? Why would you join the efforts to make Christmas invisible? The usual justification offered is that we must be cognisant of those of other faiths more recently arrived in New Zealand. Apparently celebrating our own heritage risks offending them and so we must be more inclusive – hence Happy Holidays.
However this rationale ignores the reality of the changes in our country. Many of those migrants who would purportedly be offended and feel excluded are themselves Christians. Our nation is now abounding with Christian Koreans, Filipinos, Chinese, Africans and Indians. Go to any New Zealand church on Sunday and you will meet them.
And migrants who are of other faiths are well aware they came to a country with a Judeo-Christian heritage. They are certainly aware of the all the benefits which that offers. That is no doubt why they came here. Most are probably perplexed, if not bemused, at the efforts of some Kiwis to “include” them by denying who we are.
Perhaps there is an even greater irony to the efforts to exclude Jesus Christ from this season. Christmas is inherently inclusive. As the angels declared to the shepherds in the fields that wonderful evening – Behold we bring you glad tidings of great joy which shall be for all people!