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Laura K. Lawless

Bonnes fêtes !

By December 25, 2009

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Quand j'étais lycéenne, j'avais trois bonnes amies : une catholique, une musulmane et un Témoin de Jéhovah. Non, ce n'est pas le début d'une blague ; je vous explique pourquoi j'ai tendance à dire meilleurs vœux ou bonnes fêtes au lieu de joyeux Noël. Longtemps avant d'avoir entendu le terme politiquement correct,* j'avais appris qu'il y avait de grandes différences entre les croyances de mes copines, sans compter celles des milliers d'habitants de notre ville. Du coup, j'ai décidé de dire « joyeux 25 décembre » à tout le monde. Je reconnais que c'était vaseux, mais je cherchais un moyen de partager de bons souhaits sans favoriser une fête, et donc une religion. Je ne voulais offenser personne, et je ne le veux toujours pas. Évidemment, certains de mes abonnés sont chrétiens, d'autres ne le sont pas - il faut de tout pour faire un monde.

Je vous envoie mes meilleures pensées - et pas seulement aujourd'hui, mais tous les jours de l'année. J'espère que vous serez heureux et en bonne santé, que vous partagerez de bons moments avec les amis et la famille. Mes meilleurs vœux à vous et à vos êtres chers.

*C'est la traduction (mot du jour) du terme anglais, mais il faut savoir que l'idée de « politiquement correct » est complètement étrangère à l'esprit français.

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English translation Please scroll down for the side-by-side translation.

Happy holidays!

When I was in high school, I had three good friends: a Catholic, a Muslim, and a Jehovah's Witness. No, this isn't the beginning of a joke; I'm explaining why I tend to say "best wishes" or "happy holidays" rather than "merry Christmas." Long before I ever heard the term "politically correct,"* I learned that there were big differences between the beliefs of my friends, not to mention those of the thousands of inhabitants of our town. As a result, I decided to say "happy December 25th" to everyone. This was lame, admittedly, but I was looking for a way to share good wishes without favoring a holiday, and thus a religion. I didn't want to offend anyone, and I still don't. Obviously, some of my subscribers are Christian, others aren't - it takes all kinds to make a world.

I'm sending you my best wishes - and not only today, but every day of the year. I hope that you are happy and healthy, that you are having a good time with friends and family. My best wishes to you and your loved ones.

*This is the translation of the English term, but you should know that the idea of "politically correct" is completely foreign to the French.

Comments on this article (please post unrelated comments in the forum)

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Side-by-side translation

Bonnes fêtes !

Quand j'étais lycéenne, j'avais trois bonnes amies : une catholique, une musulmane et un Témoin de Jéhovah. Non, ce n'est pas le début d'une blague ; je vous explique pourquoi j'ai tendance à dire meilleurs vœux ou bonnes fêtes au lieu de joyeux Noël. Longtemps avant d'avoir entendu le terme politiquement correct,* j'avais appris qu'il y avait de grandes différences entre les croyances de mes copines, sans compter celles des milliers d'habitants de notre ville. Du coup, j'ai décidé de dire « joyeux 25 décembre » à tout le monde. Je reconnais que c'était vaseux, mais je cherchais un moyen de partager de bons souhaits sans favoriser une fête, et donc une religion. Je ne voulais offenser personne, et je ne le veux toujours pas. Évidemment, certains de mes abonnés sont chrétiens, d'autres ne le sont pas - il faut de tout pour faire un monde.

Je vous envoie mes meilleures pensées - et pas seulement aujourd'hui, mais tous les jours de l'année. J'espère que vous serez heureux et en bonne santé, que vous partagerez de bons moments avec les amis et la famille. Mes meilleurs vœux à vous et à vos êtres chers.

*C'est la traduction (mot du jour) du terme anglais, mais il faut savoir que l'idée de « politiquement correct » est complètement étrangère à l'esprit français.

Happy holidays!

When I was in high school, I had three good friends: a Catholic, a Muslim, and a Jehovah's Witness. No, this isn't the beginning of a joke; I'm explaining why I tend to say "best wishes" or "happy holidays" rather than "merry Christmas." Long before I ever heard the term "politically correct,"* I learned that there were big differences between the beliefs of my friends, not to mention those of the thousands of inhabitants of our town. As a result, I decided to say "happy December 25th" to everyone. This was lame, admittedly, but I was looking for a way to share good wishes without favoring a holiday, and thus a religion. I didn't want to offend anyone, and I still don't. Obviously, some of my subscribers are Christian, others aren't - it takes all kinds to make a world.

I'm sending you my best wishes - and not only today, but every day of the year. I hope that you are happy and healthy, that you are having a good time with friends and family. My best wishes to you and your loved ones.

*This is the translation of the English term, but you should know that the idea of "politically correct" is completely foreign to the French.

I invite you to post comments related to this article below, but please post unrelated comments in the forum.

Comments

December 25, 2009 at 7:58 am
(1) Sidney says:

Laura: j’ai trouvé votre ‘blog de noel’ très émouvant; pas “politiquement correct” du tout mais plutôt sincère et gentil. J’envoie à mon tour tous mes bons voeux pour le 25 décembre et la Nouvelle Année à vous, votre famille et proches. Ou, comme on dit en anglais “Compliments of the Season”

December 25, 2009 at 8:04 am
(2) susanne says:

Merci beacoup pour vos articles en 2009. ca m’aide bien. Je vous souhaite une bonne et heureuse annee!

December 25, 2009 at 9:57 am
(3) Ted Thomas says:

And I wish you and all of the readers a very Merry Christmas and the blessings of the season, in the hopes that others would wish me well during the celebrations of their beliefs.

Thank you for all of you labors this year past.

December 25, 2009 at 1:21 pm
(4) Ed G says:

In Paris, all my French friends now use “Bonne Fete”, so I think this article is right on.

December 25, 2009 at 1:26 pm
(5) Mary says:

I would rather have no comments on Christmas if they have to be “politically correct”. Christmas is what it is, the historical fact of the birth of Christ. I found your comments went around in circles because you were trying so hard to not “offend” anyone. Hopefully you won’t have offended the One who is the reason for the season.

December 25, 2009 at 4:45 pm
(6) Dave says:

Right on Mary,

I wouldn’t be offended if some one wishes me Happy Ramadan or Happy Haulakah (I know I probably spelt that wrong).

MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone! I am not ashamed or emabarrassed by Christ. Perhaps we should try not to offend Christians as well.

December 25, 2009 at 5:42 pm
(7) Ray James says:

Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2009 at 6:25 pm
(8) barb says:

Je vous remercie Laura d’avoir chercher des facons de vous exprimer d’une facon respectueuse a tous vos ‘amis’. Je crois que ces efforts nous montre une facon de vivre et dans nos familles et dans le monde, en reconnaissant des differences bien que ce que nous partageons ensemble. C’est au fond l’amour – et c’est aussi ce que je crois que des chretiens (thoughtful) cherchent a celebrer a Noel. Merci!!

December 25, 2009 at 7:28 pm
(9) Don says:

I would not be offended if someone wished me a joyous Hanukkah or Ramadan; I would think they were wishing me the best in their tradition. If someone is offended with being wished a Merry Christmas, then I would think it is they who have the problem.

It seems ironic that we celebrate diversity on one hand (no problem there) and then devise expressions that totally squelch those differences with respect to recognizing certain holidays.

On another subject, coming at the end of the year, I would like to thank Laura for having such a wonderful site to learn French. It’s the best on the web, by far, in my opinion. Thank you Laura. :-)

December 26, 2009 at 12:17 am
(10) Daniel says:

Merci Laura pour écrivez ton blog même aujourd’hui. J’ai lu ton mots avec intéresse. Bonnes fêtes !

December 26, 2009 at 12:44 am
(11) MS says:

Laura,

je vous souhaite aussi une nouvelle année heureuse pour vous et votre mari là tout en france ainsi que votre famille en Amerique et que vous soyez bennisé de tous les années à venir.

Bonnes Fêtes

December 26, 2009 at 5:14 am
(12) poltu says:

Joyeux Noël, Laura et tout le monde …
Moi, je ne suis pas chrétien, mais je n’ai aucun problème d’être souhaiter Joyeux Noël ! J’ai dessiné un BD sur ce sujet dans mon blog de Noël :
http://pen-slinger.blogspot.com
(Je dessine un BD ‘Teaching French’, entre autres, dans mon bolg)… et j’ai souhaité mes lectures ‘Joyeux Noël’ – sans pensant au politiquement correct ;) )

December 26, 2009 at 9:25 am
(13) maramkanan says:

Laura,
I am very happy cause you send your best wishes to everyone at December 25th”.
I am Muslim and I also have dear Christian friends and we celebrate the holidays for both Islam and Christians together.
In the past two years I was offend because you Congratulated through your newsletters the holidays for Christians and Jews and no one time the holidays for Islam, I thought you have not an idea about it but then I read that you lived in Morocco and you know it well

Of course, Islam is a religion as in the Koran and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad and not as works by Muslims actually.
Sorry if there are language mistakes cause English is my second lan,my native lan is Arabic.

My best wishes to every reader to 25 th December,and Happy new year2010.

December 26, 2009 at 11:14 am
(14) seamus says:

Laura,
Welcome back after your illness!
I don’t think it offends Muslims to say “Happy Christmas” to them. I’m not offended by people saying “Happy Ramadan”, or “Happy Hannukah”. I know I’m not being asked to embrace Islam or Judaism. I can enjoy their feasts without celebrating. Political correctness has gone to far, and the French are right to ignore it.

December 26, 2009 at 6:45 pm
(15) Mituriau says:

After reading Laura’s season’s wishes I had to ask myself why is it that religious groups all over the world are jubilant and proud of their festivals and holy days.

Christians on the other hand feel the need to be apologetic, embarrassed or even ashamed of theirs?

Non-Christians know that the 25. December is a Christian holy day, no matter how you try to disguise it or pussy-foot around it.
Mituriau

P.S. Laura, I love your site, thank you very much for all your help and efforts

December 26, 2009 at 6:50 pm
(16) Jacqueline says:

Chère Laura,

Bonne Fête à tous.
Que Dieu vous bénisse.
Tous nos vœux pour une heureuse Année 2010.
Jacqueline

December 26, 2009 at 8:12 pm
(17) Abdus Salam says:

I am a Muslim, and I totally agree with some of the comments here that we don’t all have to end up becoming the same. We can be different without that eroding genuine respect for each other. Having said that, your intentions are commendable (@Laura). The world could do with more people like you.

December 26, 2009 at 11:19 pm
(18) Rosemary says:

Let’s just celebrate the Winter Solstice, Dec.21, the shortest day/longest night of the year and cuddle up. These weeks of deep winter make us all a bit quieter, which we counter with happy greetings, lights, and heavy foods.

The days are now getting longer, and soon spring will be here–with the holidays it brings.

December 27, 2009 at 9:21 am
(19) Amy Vozar says:

Well said!!

December 27, 2009 at 3:26 pm
(20) Sarah says:

If you are Christian, Christmas is a very important time of the year. As another poster said, it is what it is.
I actually find Christians who say like some Americans “Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings” instead of “Merry Christmas”.. VERY OFFENSIVE.

If it is your religion be proud of it…especially if it is the main religion of your country ie Australia.- yes Australia is multicultural and like most countries has many people of many religions the main religion of the country is Christianity and we celebrate Christmas as a country. Some idiot maire in Sydney one year decided to take away the Merry Christmas signs in around the city in favour of “Seasons Greetings’.. there was an uproar..
How pathetic,…if a muslim or whoever deciedes to be “offended” by US celebrating our religion in our own country – seriously they need to go back to their own country if they are so offended….what are they doing here (in Australia).

A muslim wouldn’t hide there religion from you in case we are offended. they are pROUND OF THERE RELIGION.

I really don’t agree wtih your post at all Laura, if your friends are not tolerant of you say Merry Christams if that is your religion then perhaps they need to accept other people and there religions more.

Love your French about com newsletter though. Well done and keep up the good work.
Thanks

December 27, 2009 at 6:57 pm
(21) Sunminlee says:

Bonne fete !!

December 27, 2009 at 7:52 pm
(22) June says:

Merry Christmas Laura.
I agree with not deliberately offending people and I accept and respect other religions. However, the Christian religion deserves the same respect. It is offensive to Christians not to recognise Christ as the reason for the Christmas festival – so Happy Holidays cuts Him out of it completely. Sorry Laura – your blog is great but I can’t completely agree with your comments on this one.

December 28, 2009 at 2:44 am
(23) Laura K Lawless says:

Bonjour tout le monde. You are, of course, all free to disagree with me. But I do want to point out two things: First, I am not Christian and do not celebrate Christmas. And second, “happy holidays” does not mean “Merry Christmas without acknowledgment of Christ,” it means “I’m wishing you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year, Happy Kwaanza – whichever may apply to you.”

Laura K. Lawless
Learn French at About

December 28, 2009 at 3:05 pm
(24) Muriel says:

Merci bien, Laura. Je suis Juive and vos mots me font tres heureuse.

Muriel

December 10, 2012 at 9:11 pm
(25) telfer cronos says:

Hi. Thanks for your blog. My book club leader, who is French, said to me the other day “Bonnes fetes”. I assumed it meant exactly the same as people in the USA when I was there 17 years ago who would says “happy holidays”. I.e. they want to be politically correct.

December 10, 2012 at 9:19 pm
(26) mick white says:

I am happy to say “Joyeux Noel” but would usually only say it if someone says it to me first. “bonnes fetes” can safely be said anytime, and does not imply that I do, or do not, believe in santa claus.

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