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Correctness yet to hit New Year

If you're like me, you've been Happy New Year-ed more times than you can count over the last few days.

If you're like me, you've been Happy New Year-ed more times than you can count over the last few days.

It seems you can't go anywhere during the first few days of January without someone offering celebratory greetings for the 12 months that lie ahead. Go to a store, you get it. Go to a restaurant, you get it there too. I was even Happy New Year-ed by a friendly lady while walking the dog on Sunday morning.

Now, I must say I find nothing wrong or offensive by these cordial gestures, and I'm quite happy to return the favour, but the more I hear them, the more it gets me wondering when political correctness will kill off this holiday custom.

We all know that wishing someone a Merry Christmas has become a less frequent occurrence these days, the refrain having given way to Season's Greetings or Happy Holidays in order not to offend those people that don't celebrate Christmas. Yet Happy New Year has, for the most part, continued to flourish, escaping the clutches of the politically correct police.

I find this curious given that creating a calendar, and hence a new year, is most certainly a cultural and religious practice that has a myriad of variations, although the majority of the world now subscribes to the Gregorian version. But even that seemingly benign calendar has a significant religious foundation, having been introduced by Pope Gregory more than 400 years ago so it's also known as the Western or Christian calendar.

In the Lower Mainland, Chinese New Year is widely celebrated, even by nonAsians, but won't occur this year until Jan. 23. There are many other cultures where Jan. 1 is not the beginning of another year either.

Yet unlike Christmas, we don't seem to have a problem exerting our Christian heritage when it comes to New Year's Day. We unabashedly celebrate the occasion and haven't felt the need to come up with an alternative salutation, a less offensive greeting for those who don't see the significance of the first of January.

Perhaps we view New Year's as a simple, utilitarian occurrence, merely the first of 364 more days to come (yes, I know, there are 365 more this year). Maybe four centuries have taken any religious connotations out of our calendar to the point where we feel comfortable celebrating it.

Sooner or later, however, the politically correct will catch on to this offensive practice and put a stop to it.

In the meantime, let me wish you a Happy New Year.