December 14, 2010 – The League was pleased to hear about the public school board in Chilliwack, BC voting to re-name the two-week December holiday “Christmas vacation” rather than “winter break.” As one of the trustees, Martha Weins, put it, “We are having a holiday because it’s Christmas, so why not just say what it is.”
Though greeted with some criticism by those who considered the move insensitive or “not inclusive”, most who wrote to the local paper supported the change. After many years of efforts to remove Christian references from the public square, especially at Christmastime, there are signs that many people have had enough. Even those who aren’t particularly religious know that a lit, decorated evergreen is a Christmas tree, not a holiday or community tree, and that the holiday celebrates the birth of Christ.
Many advertisers have begun to return “Christmas” to their television and print messages, albeit alongside “Happy Holidays” and “Season Greetings.” The League thanks those merchants who have shown some sensitivity to their Christian customers. While Christmas should not be primarily about commerce, the gift-giving is part of how we celebrate.
The fact of the matter is that “cultural sensitivity” is the excuse used by extremely secular people, almost all of them lapsed Christians themselves, to remove faith from public life 365 days a year. We should all respect the beliefs of others, but it can be done without removing religion from public discourse altogether.
At Christmas, in particular, we should be grateful for the efforts of those who politely decline the invitation to downplay religious symbols. The Knights of Columbus, through their “Keep Christ in Christmas” campaign, make lawn signs with that message available in many communities. Countless parishes, religious and community groups sponsor public crèche scenes, despite the unfortunate need to provide some security as well as the scenes themselves.
This year the nativity scene at Toronto’s Old City Hall, sponsored by the Catholic lay movement, Gethsemane Ministries, with the help of Campaign Life Coalition, was once again vandalized, by kicks that broke the plexiglass. As the League told LifeSite News after the incident, we need to keep our religious images an integral part of the public celebration of Christmas despite the threat of such incidents.
There’s also been an appreciable increase in the number of people wishing their friends, neighbours and shop assistants a “Merry Christmas.” Far from being perplexed or in any way offended, most people really appreciate the gesture.
– Giving is a family affair, Register column by Joanne McGarry, Dec. 8, 2010