I watched the Barefoot Contessa with my grandmother today on the Food Network. It was a "holiday" episode with hot chocolate and other Christmas-y recipes. Every time she added cinnamon to a recipe, she smelled it and said gleefully, "this smells so Holiday-ish." After hearing this several times I found myself exasperated.
"Why don't you just go ahead and say Christmas?" I challenged aloud. "Saying that this smells like the Holidays doesn't really make sense!"
Actually, come to think about it - there isn't much that makes sense about the phrase "Happy Holidays." I understand why people say it. There are a few different cultures observing different holidays at this time of year. The vast majority of the world celebrates Christmas, but there are sizable chunks observing Hannukah and Kwanzaa. Not wanting to offend those celebrating either of the latter, or those bitter few who celebrate nothing, many people say, "Happy Holidays."
Without getting in to a discussion political correctness, though, I want to address what else is ridiculous about the phrase.
First, why don't we use this phrase year round? There is always some holiday coming up - why don't we go about constantly with "Happy Holidays" on our lips?
The fact that we don't raises an interesting point; isn't it obvious that this season is about Christmas? But, moving right along...
Second, it makes absolutely no sense to say that something "smells like the Holidays." I ask you, Contessa, of which Holiday does it smell?
Hopefully not Groundhog's Day!
How are we to know that this is a good smell she is sucking in?
If she were to say Christmas, then - aha! - I understand the smell and the emotions that come with it. The smell of the Holidays? That's a bit vague for me.
Wouldn't the world make more sense if we said what we meant?