Making good on his campaign promises to embrace the word “Christmas,” Donald Trump made sure that his first White House holiday card was not politically correct. Both Barack Obama and George W. Bush sent inclusive greeting cards that embraced holidays outside of Christmas, but Trump thinks the phrase “Happy Holidays” is too politically correct and instead sent out official White House cards that read, “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”
Some Christians think the phrase “Happy Holidays” is an attack on Christmas, which is confusing because the interfaith and inclusive holiday greeting only meant to include those who may not celebrate Christmas. It’s as if someone stepped into an international airport in the United States with signs written in multiple languages and said, “Hey, those other languages are an attack on English!”
“They don’t use the word ‘Christmas’ because it’s not politically correct,” Trump lamented in October of this year at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. “We are stopping cold the attacks on Judeo-Christian values. You know, we’re getting near that beautiful Christmas season that people don’t talk about anymore. You go to department stores, and they’ll say, ‘Happy New Year’ and they’ll say other things. And it will be red, they’ll have it painted, but they don’t say it. Well, guess what? We’re saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again.”
It seems strange that in light of everything happening in 2017, a debate on seasonal jargon is still on the table.
The former White House Social Secretary Desirée Rogers revealed to the New York Times in 2009 why the Obamas opted for a more secular greeting card. “We want it to be inclusive, diverse, representative of all Americans, celebratory, authentic,” Rogers said at the time.
In case the holiday phrase debacle is starting to feel like a partisan issue, George W. Bush sent cards in 2005 that wished supporters a happy “holiday season.”
Even Starbucks cups are not immune from this perceived culture war. Perhaps this issue will never be resolved.