The War On "Happy Holidays"

"Happy Holidays" has been a part of our culture for over a hundred years. Why is there suddenly a war against it? Why is this simple phrase suddenly so scandalous?

I was inspired to do this research by a friend who, I guess, travels in somewhat more conservative circles than I do. She mentioned to me that she'd "gotten @#$%^" one year when she sent a "Happy Holidays" card instead of a "Merry Christmas" card....

And yet... somehow, children's book authors, record companies, Hallmark Cards, various chambers of commerce (Corpus Christi, Texas!), Lorne Greene, Mattel, True Value Hardware and even Mario Lanza have all gotten into the act. Apparently, this anti-American cabal has been wishing people Happy Holidays since at least the middle of the century BEFORE the last one!

Just for fun, the following is a partial list of books and musical recordings and scores published between the 1850s and the 1970s that use the phrase "Happy Holidays" (or "Happy Holiday" in an obviously Christmas-oriented sense) in their titles. (In chronological order by category; courtesy of Worldcat.)


Edmund Evans, Woodleigh House, or, The happy holidays. 1852 and many subsequent printings
Emma Davenport, The happy holidays, or, Brothers and sisters at home. 1880s
Palmer Cox, Eight happy holidays. 1882
Anon. Happy holidays: records of many merry days. 1884
Anon. Our happy holidays : poems, stories, and pictures. 1888
E. T. Roe, Happy holidays: profusely illustrated. 1894
Frances G. Wickes, Happy holidays. 1921
Eleanor Graham, Happy holidays; stories, legends and customs of red-letter days and holidays. 1933
Corpus Christi, Texas Chamber of Commerce, Rest or play in Corpus Christi: "Where Texas Meets the Sea": harbour of happy holidays. 1935
Oshkosh, Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce, Happy holidays flourish in Winnebagoland. 1936
D. J. Dickie, Happy holidays. 1938
Edwin Clark Reichert, Happy holidays, and other fun days around the year. 1953
Leon D. Cowan, Happy holidays. (note publisher: Brigham City, Utah: Materials Preparation Dept., Intermountain Indian School) 1953
Zena Henderson, Happy holidays. Thesis (M.A. Ed.), 1954
Charles Honce, Happy holidays 1957-1958. 1957
Stella Craft Tremble, Happy holidays! Holiday verse for all occasions. 1963
Minneapolis Gas Co., Happy holidays. 1964
Hallmark Cards, Inc., Happy holidays recipe book. 1965
Jane Ashley, Recipes for happy holidays and "goodies for giving." 1960s or 70s

Recordings and musical scores

Leila France, Happy holidays for children; a collection of nineteen songs. 1925
Ray Noble et al. Happy holidays a musical story. 1949
Mistletoe Records, Happy holidays. 1960
Capitol Records, Happy holidays. Album seven. 1960s
Columbia records, Happy holidays. 1960s
George Anson, Happy holidays: a set of piano pieces for holidays throughout the year. 1962
Mario Lanza, et al., Happy holidays. 1962
Florence Girlamo, Music for happy holidays. 1965
Lorne Greene, Have a happy holiday. 1965
The Mummers, Happy holidays with the best of the Mummers. 1965
Raymond Paige et al., Happy holidays. 1967
Jim Reeves et al., Happy holidays, volume IV. 1968
Jo Stafford, Happy holidays. 1968
Happy holidays from the United States Army Field Band. Sometime in the 1970s

But wait...there's more:

An article entitled “Happy Holidays, 1880” appeared in the Charleston (South Carolina) News and Courier, 27 December 1880. An excerpt:

“…there were not many casualties. A negro boy lost an eye destroyed by a ball from a Roman candle….a colored man from the country was badly beaten…a colored woman was run over by a dray and severely injured.”

What could be more American than happy holidays like those?



Woman in a Bathrobe

Hey, that's catchy, kinda like "Mirror in the Bathroom." Feel Tank has now had 2 of its 15 minutes of fame. Listen here.

In other news, two of my three readers know this already, but...I had good news about my tenure case yesterday. Maybe I can start blogging under my real name now. (Maybe not.) Yesterday it was 60 degrees in Boston in mid-December. On any other day, for me, that would be cause for alarm. Yesterday it was cause for ice cream.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled eco-anxiety.

Actually, here, let me add to your eco-anxiety. I recently happened to hear a very interesting presentation by a recent PhD in geochemistry. Apparently as the permafrost beneath arctic lakes melts, organic matter thaws and is made available to bacteria, which metabolize it into methane that then bubbles up into the air through the lakes. Methane is a global warming gas, which means this is a feedback loop. The more the permafrost thaws, the warmer the air becomes, which thaws the permafrost more, which...well, you get the picture...



Cambridge/Somerville Dining Report

It's been a long time since I've spent enough time in Cambridge and Somerville, MA, to eat out at enough restaurants that I can get a sense of the food vibe--at least the cheap lunch food vibe--around here. The past two weeks have changed that. Here's my report.

Sushi. Cafe Sushi (1105 Mass Ave) good; Blue Fin (1815 Mass Ave, i.e. Porter Exchange) better -- and there's a Japanese grocery there too.

Vegetarian. Veggie Planet (47 Palmer St., down in the Passim basement) is great. They have toppings they will put on either pizza or rice. I had Mexican something or other over rice and when it arrived I was a bit skeptical, but it was delicious. Also, Harvest Coop, 581 Mass Ave., a good, slightly yuppified coop grocery store. Is this the same coop that was in Central Square (on the other side of the street) in the late 80s--but was much more deeply countercultural (i.e. kinda dirty, to my nineteen-year-old eyes)? I don't know.

Crazy Dough's (The Garage, 36 JFK) has replaced that other pizza place that used to be there that I don't remember the name of. Cheap. Slices with creative toppings. Some online reviewer doesn't like the crust, but their thin crust crust (they also have thicker square slices also, but I haven't tried them) is just the kind I like -- thin in the middle, crispy/bubbly at the edge. I also had pizza at Grafton Street, which was three times as expensive and not half as good.

There used to be a decent Mexican place in The Garage, but it went the way of the much bemoaned Coffee Connection and Formaggio. But for a cheap burrito, Boca Grande, 1728 Mass Ave, just as good if not better than it was and it's now got tofu burritos (and other stuff) -- yay!

Montien, 1287 Cambridge St. (Inman Square). OK. Claims to have won Best of Boston awards, but can't hold a candle to much cheaper places in Chicago.

Indian. Diva, in Davis Square. Davis is the restaurant news of the decade -- there was almost nothing there when I lived nearby. Diva has good Indian food but DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES eat in their new Diva Lounge next door. We were seated there while waiting for a table and ordered appetizers. Mine was trying to be hip, but tasted vile: a soggy poori shaped like a duck, inside of which was some watery sour cream mixed with flour (I kid you not -- at least that's what it tasted like); one or two slices of tomato and potato, and three chick peas. Then it gets worse. When our table in the main dining room was ready, we asked for our check and put down a credit card, and waited. And waited. The Diva hostess, who had already told us our table was ready, came back and told us we had to settle up before coming in to sit down. We said that we knew that and were just waiting for the waitress to handle our check. She looked put out, said "well, one of you could come in," and flounced away. If she wanted the table filled, how was it not her job to get our check taken care of quickly? Fortunately once we finally did sit down to our entrees in the main restaurant they were very good.

Homophobic conversations. For some reason, this is a feature of Cambridge restaurants also. Almost every time I sit down to eat lunch in Harvard Square, I am privy to some kind of homophobic conversation--among students or, in one weird case, a local politician (I think) talking with a visitor to the area. What's up with that?



Where polonium-210 was found in London

From Tagzania.



Shaws Employees On Quest To Obey Law

Well, at least that's what I'm told at the checkout line in Shaw's (a New England supermarket chain): a sign asks to be flattered if you are carded, and to "accommodate our employees in their quest to obey the law."

Speaking of the law, would you pass the new U.S. citizenship test? I'm not sure I would. One of the questions asks, "What is the law of the land?"


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