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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Christams vs Holidays, a moral dilema (Page 3)

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Author Topic: Christams vs Holidays, a moral dilema
Audeo
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I enjoy celebrating Christmas, but I often go out of my way to find 'Christmas' cards with non-denominational messages/pictures, just because I know I'm uncomfortable getting overly religious cards from people outside my religion, so I try not to send them to others. The other reason I prefer "Happy Holidays" to "Merry Christmas" is that I include New Years as part of the midwinter festivities. New Years is a western imposed holiday without any significant religious connotations, but people approach it in a more meditative fashion (making resolutions, reviewing the past year, etc) than they often do for the more religious holiday. I enjoy New Years as much as I do Christmas, though they are celebrated in different ways. Christmas is more of a family time, New Years is more of an opportunity to spend time with friends. So in wishing someone "Happy Holidays" I feel like I'm being more inclusive not just on grounds of different religious beliefs, but including what I consider another major holiday. Many people have time off work, as a student I get time off school, and it's generally a time to visit with family and friends. I mean you hardly need a reason to celebrate in July, usually the good weather promotes spontaneous gatherings like barbecues, but in December and January, I'm glad of whatever chance I get to spread some cheer.
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David Bowles
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I know... maybe if we change the spelling! Why not "Krismus"? Then no sensitive souls will be offended by seeing the name of a god who isn't theirs in the name of the holiday (holuday?).
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Tante Shvester
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You have a problem with Christams?
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Scott R
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Well. . .

ChristAMS points to the idea that Christ claimed to be Jehovah.

[Smile]

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Ela
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quote:
Originally posted by Verily the Younger:
quote:
Cause I'm curious, what is your culture?
American. Specifically, European-American. Even more specifically, Anglo-American, in that my ancestors came to this country from England before this even was a country.

quote:
What's Christmas' significance if not a religious one?
It's cultural. It's a part of American culture. It's a part of Western culture. I don't see why this is so hard for people to understand. In this era, when diversity means we all have to do everything differently from everybody else--instead of what it originally meant, and in my opinion should mean, that we all form a single culture borrowing the best from everybody*--Christmas is one of the few celebrations left that Americans can have just because it's there. Because it's fun. Because we love it.
It's not part of my culture.

I am an American and I don't celebrate Xmas. Of course, growing up in America, I have been exposed to many of the trappings of Xmas, but I don't really relate to them. They have nothing to do with me or my religion.

I avoid the stores like the plague this time of year, unless I absolutely need something.

And while I am not offended to be wished a "Merry Xmas" and always respond politely, I don't particularly enjoy it either. I feel as though the well-wisher is assuming that I celebrate Xmas, that everyone celebrates Xmas, which just isn't true. Sometimes I respond with a "Happy Chanukah."

I like being wished a "Happy Holiday" much better, as it feels inclusive to me of all the holidays.

quote:
Originally posted by Leonide:
You know, my favorite holiday phrase has always been "Season's Greetings!"

I like that, too. [Smile]
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Dan_raven
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You can't take the commercialization out of Christmas until you take Christmas out of the commercial.
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Anna
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You could go with a word like the French Nol, which is less obviously religiously connoted.
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Will B
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I don't want religious content removed from *any* holiday. When someone invites me to a Hanukah party, I don't say, only if you don't make any mention of Judaism. When someone tells me he's celebrating Ramadan, I don't change the subject; I ask for details. Why ever would I not? If my perspective is so fragile I have to hide myself from the awareness that others believe differently . . . wow.
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fugu13
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Then it should make perfect sense to you that stores, who are attempting to cater to several faiths of holiday shopper instead of just one, choose greetings that are easily palliable for several holidays [Smile] .

After all, only mentioning one of them would remove the religious content from those other holidays, but not going with specific content in the first place means nobody's religious content is being removed, since there's no necessary implication of religiosity in shopping.

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Will B
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So you're saying that the way to prevent religious content from being removed is to remove religious content.

Understood.

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David Bowles
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Here's the text of an e-mail I sent out to some of my colleagues at the school where I teach:

In the spirit of changes made at this school to avoid offending non-Christians, here are some important changes to keep in mind for this evening's Winter Party:

1) Secret Santa is now "Secret Holiday Personage"
2) Red and green have been banned in favor of the more neutral beige and tan.
3) Those with mistletoe on their lapels or dresses must turn the offending plant in at the entrance. A stub will be issued so you can pick your sprig back up upon leaving.
4) Large portly men with white beards must shave before attending.
5) All crosses, crucifixes, or other reminders of the "Christ" part of the holiday-formerly-known-as-Christmas must be hidden away.
6) Due to popular demand, the DJ WILL continue playing popular holiday songs, but in newly sanitized versions:
-"Oh Little Town of Bethlehem" is now "Oh Little Town in Disputed Middle Eastern Territory"
-"Oh, Christmas Tree" is now "Oh, Winter Foliage"
-"White Christmas" now begins "I'm dreaming of a snowy holiday" what's this "white" nonsense, anyway?
-"Joy to the World" is out of the question as it explicitly describes the birth of a man whom not everyone will see as being their deity, and that would possibly be uncomfortable for a vanishingly small minority of hyper-sensitive reactionaries whom it would be foolish to offend...
-"Deck the halls" now begins "deck the halls with faith-neutral ornaments"
-"Twelve Days of Christmas" are now, of course, "Twelve days of Winter Break"

Please keep these adjustments in mind so that we may all enjoy a colorless, flavorless, inoffensive and thoroughly inclusive Winter Party!

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MrSquicky
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David,
I'm still wondering why you think it's okay for the school to exclude students because they only make up 10% of the population.

Perhaps you should include on your list that the members of your population who used to be called "second class citizens" are now called "students".

[ December 09, 2005, 02:04 PM: Message edited by: MrSquicky ]

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fugu13
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No. Shopping is not a religious activity, so the absence of religious references is not a removal of significance. You're not saying that Christmas is not significant by not making any religious references whatsoever in a store greeting.

However, whenever you choose to make a greeting about religion, you are making clear one holiday your store has chosen to value -- removing significance from other religious holidays.

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Dan_raven
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More importantly, you are insuring that one store, and all the employees, are using your religion to promote secular, financial gain. Every "Christmas Sale" defines Christmas as mercantile, not religious.
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tern
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MrSquicky, I'm still wondering why you think it's okay for the school to exclude students because they only make up 90% of the population. Perhaps you should include on your list that the members of the population who used to be called "second class citizens" are now called "Christians".

Really, can anyone imagine pulling this stunt with Ramadan? Or how the Muslims would react?

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Dan_raven
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Term, since when is not giving preferential treatment called exclusion?
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fugu13
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Pulling what stunt with Ramadan? Not giving it exceptional attention? You mean, pretty much the situation we have now?

In DBs case, I do think the school policy goes too far. I think it would be appropriate were teachers allowed to say whatever they wanted . . . with the exception that were they aware a particular student felt excluded by the use of "Merry Christmas" or the like, they were required to use more generic terms.

Or perhaps teachers could be given a list of holiday greetings they had to say at least one time each throughout the day, encompassing all major religious and non-religious traditions, as well as assorted generic greetings [Wink] .

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tern
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What if we were to rename Ramadan, refuse to use the word Ramadan, etc. The only difference between such a situation and what we have here is that Christianity is the majority religion. Acknowledging someone else's religion isn't exclusion. It's inclusion.
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TomDavidson
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quote:

The only difference between such a situation and what we have here is that Christianity is the majority religion.

No, not really.
Before I explain what the obvious differences are, I'd like you to stop for a second and give some thought as to what they might be. Seriously. Because I think that would probably help.

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tern
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Let me rephrase: IMO, the only operative difference. (And I'm really trying to avoid cheap shots at Islam here, so that cuts out a lot of differences.)
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Enigmatic
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quote:
Shopping is not a religious activity
That is, quite possibly, the most un-American thing I have ever read on this board.
[Wink]

--Enigmatic

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fugu13
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Lets see, there are still lots of people using the word Christmas, and I don't see anybody renaming it (with the ever-present possible exception of small, largely unknown fringe groups).

So I fail to see how doing those things to Ramadan would be analogous to what's happening now.

One might even say that avoiding specific mention of Christmas is almost exactly parallel to avoiding specific mention of Ramadan, as is currently done by default, excepting the relative populations involved in each.

If you're going to assert what people are doing in saying things like Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas is "renaming" or "refusing to use the word" Christmas, what are people doing to Ramadan by saying Merry Christmas?

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TomDavidson
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When Ramadan is a national holiday and provokes shopping frenzies -- and has its own mascot, maybe a slightly gaunt but friendly guy named Caliph Ali who's never actually depicted anywhere because that would be wrong -- and people go around complaining that no one really celebrates Valentine's Day anymore because of all the Ramadan decorations that show up in stores by New Year's Day, tern, you'll have an argument for a parallel.

It's not just a matter of Christianity being the majority religion; it's a matter of the phenomenon of Christmas also being a secular cultural holiday.

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David Bowles
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Squick... How are they being excluded by our using the word "Christmas"? What the hell kind of freaking wimps are we creating in this nation if they can't even handle other people's having holidays that don't form part of their own belief system. Really, you'd have a point if we were going "Merry Christmas to Christians! The rest of you are going to hell because you're not." But that's not the case. Children need to learn to deal with stuff like this. People with minority viewpoints need to learn that, hello, theirs is a minority viewpoint. It's not dissed or trampled upon, but others aren't going to give up their own practices just to make the odd atheist, for example (points to self), feel more comfortable.

You know tons about psychology. How healthy can it be for society to sanitize and gloss over the differences between cultures and religions? What good does it do? I am all for including Hannukah and Kwanza decorations/greetings/celebrations. That's one thing. That's what schools did when I was in school. But this new invention of secular holiday terminology (how's that for an oxymoron) to soothe possible conflicts is ridiculous.

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Dan_raven
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On the flip side, when was the last time you went to Target and the people wished you a Happy Ramadan?

Would you be happy if you were told by your boss that it was part of you job to wish everyone a very merry Yon Kippur? (OK, a merry Yon Kippur is not really appropriate, but you get the idea).

You seem to imply that being a minority is something people need to deal with, as if it were a handicap, a sin, an act of rebellion against the majority. Being Islamic is a choice that sets you apart from the majority of society, like nose rings or a mullett. Any inconvience is your fault for being the minority. I am afraid the US doesn't work that way.

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docmagik
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It really is just part of life.

If I were to move to China, I would not be offended at manifestations of the majority culture. If people did things that were in line with their culture, I would not take those as being signs that they were trying to exclude me. I would form opinions about them, sure, and I might not even like all of them. But the things they did would have everything to do with who they were, and nothing to do with who I was.

Now, that said, it is likely I would end up gravitating to those places that catered to my needs as an American better. So there is truly a financial, capitalist reason for people to want to be more hospitable and welcoming to small groups.

But let's face it. Even Christmas as we know it today is a conglomoration of elements of holiday celebrations from all over the world. Christmas already is a celebration of diversity. That will only become more so as the years go on. We'll continue to see elements of the various holidays of the world incorporated into our national celebrations, and likely even into our homes.

Happy Holidays is, to me, a perfectly rational means of reflecting this expansion. I would LOVE to see more multicultural displays for the same reason I would love to visit China. I love it when I get wished a happy religious celebration of a denomination other than my own, because I know how much that holiday means to the wisher.

I fear that the people who get uptight about the "inclusive" use of Happy Holidays are as guilty of intolerance towards other religions as they're accusing the people who are saying Happy Holidays of being.

On the other hand, the people who believe Christmas displays are somehow offensive to non-Christians are far too sensitive.

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docmagik
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In fact, I'll go so far as to say, people who are personally offended at someone mentioning, displaying signs of, or wishing that someone else have a joyous holiday, celebration, or event that they associate with joy, or love, or happiness, or even solemn rememberance--an event or time of year that is probably one of the most dear things in the world to them that is not a physical person--might need to stop and do some self-examination to see if they aren't maybe a little too self-centered and lacking in empathy.

When I lived in Brazil, they observed every Catholic holiday. Everybody got the day off work, but not me. In my little world, the only two ways it affected me was that I had to dodge the fires kids would always be burning on their front lawns those nights, and I had to pay again to board the bus in the bus terminal so they could make up the money they were losing on all the people who weren't going to work. I'd often get wished a happy whatever-saint's-day-it-was.

What kind of person would you think I was if I came here and said, "Those Brazilians didn't even stop to think about how I wasn't Catholic. I had my Mormon missionary nametag on. Why did I have to put up with all these manifestations of Catholicism?" Would they come across as intolerant, or would I?

Nobody means wishes of good in a bad way. Why can't we all just take it in the spirit in which it was offered--no matter what was said?

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David Bowles
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Oh, I have no problem with someone's *choosing* to use Happy Holidays. Great. I have a problem with being told that I shouldn't use Merry Christmas.
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docmagik
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David, I think your take is spot on.
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ambyr
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There's a funny little decorated display in my office kitchen that the Social Committee has taken the time to set up. Lots of red and green ribbons, pictures of Christmas trees and snowmen, and "Happy Holidays!" in big, cheerful letters. The word Christmas appears nowhere.

Then, off in the corner, there's a piece of office paper printed with the words "Happy Hanukah" and a picture of a menorah and a dreidel. (No one on the decorating team, I know, is Jewish.)

I'm not really sure what to make of this. Let me start off by saying I'm in no ways offended by any of it, just puzzled. If we need separate signs for the "Happy Holidays" and non-Christian religious holidays, then what is "Happy Holidays" except for a slightly more alliterate synonym for "Merry Christmas"? And why are they bothing with the euphemism?

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TomDavidson
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quote:

There's a funny little decorated display in my office kitchen that the Social Committee has taken the time to set up. Lots of red and green ribbons, pictures of Christmas trees and snowmen, and "Happy Holidays!" in big, cheerful letters. The word Christmas appears nowhere.

Then, off in the corner, there's a piece of office paper printed with the words "Happy Hanukah" and a picture of a menorah and a dreidel. (No one on the decorating team, I know, is Jewish.)

You can kind of tell.
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kmbboots
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quote:
The real siege of Christmas
Spirit of Christmas under attack from superficial commentators


Commentators Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and John Gibson of Fox News and Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights dishonor the spirit of Christmas by grandstanding about superficial issues while undermining the true spirit of Christmas Much like the Pharisees of Jesus' day, their focus on the language of retail advertising, and shopping itself, makes a mockery of the real Christmas message. Recent attempts targeting department store advertising, the President's holiday greeting card and the Christmas tree outside the Capitol (yes, we agree it's a Christmas tree) distract from the true meaning of Christmas: that Jesus Christ was born to bring good news to the poor.

"If Jesus entered a department store today, he wouldn't be worried about whether the advertising said "Christmas" or "Holiday." He would care if we were so stressed out about shopping that we didn't have enough time for family and friends. The Catholic social tradition calls us to ask if Wal-mart workers and shoppers are earning a family wage, if they were able to feed their families, and take their kids to the doctor." said Alexia Kelley, Executive Director of the Catholic Alliance for the Common Good.

Just in time for Christmas, Congressional leaders are preparing to deliver tax breaks to the rich and spending cuts to the poor. The budget cuts funding for food stamps, heath care for the needy, and student loans for low and middle class Americans.

"How do you celebrate Christ's birth by balancing the federal budget on the backs of the neediest? It is a bad Christmas story. It is a moral outrage to hurt the poor, our youth and our senior citizens and at the same time pass more tax cuts that benefit the rich and bankrupt our grandchildren's futures," said Sister Simone Campbell SSS, National Coordinator of NETWORK, A Catholic Social Justice Lobby.

So far this Christmas season, O'Reilly, Hannity, Gibson and Donohue have put superficiality ahead of spirituality. We pray that the Christmas season will inspire all of us to direct our anger at true injustices, such as a budget that cuts funding to the poor and gives tax breaks to the rich. That's the real siege on the spirit of Christmas.

The Catholic Alliance for the Common Good supports Catholic organizations committed to honoring Catholic social teaching and the fullness of the Catholic faith. For more information visit www.thecatholicalliance.org .



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Dan_raven
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You can't take the commercialism out of Christmas, until you take Christmas out of the commercial.
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Paul Goldner
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DAvid-
I'm curious. When you tell your students "merry christmas," what do you say to the jews or muslims or hindus or buddhists in your class?

Its one thing to say merry christmas to someone you know is christian. Its another to assume that every kid in your class is christian. In particular, this year, if on the last day of school before break, you say "And have a merry christmas," you ARE actively saying to the non-christians in your class that they are second class citizens. Because channukah starts december 25th.

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tern
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Anyone who is diminished by wishing someone else good cheer...well...is a little too sensitive. What do you say to your Muslim students when you wish your Jewish students a Happy Hannukah?
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Paul Goldner
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"Anyone who is diminished by wishing someone else good cheer...well...is a little too sensitive."

You're missing the point, tern. Its not the good cheer... its the assumption that everyone in the class is of a certain religion.

I have no problems if you say merry christmas to your class... as long as, during the course of the year, you give the appropriate wishes for each major holiday that comes along. If, for example, you miss Ramadan, then your muslim students have a right to feel excluded from the general population, because they HAVE been excluded. They have been told that their religion is not worthy of notice. They've been told they are second class students.

Students ARE diminished if their personal story is not acknowledge, but the stories of other students are. So you've either got to acknowledge all of them individually, or all of them collectively, or none of them. Otherwise you're being a bad teacher.

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dean
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Three years ago, I was working in a bookstore. There was no official rule about what to say to customers as they were leaving, but all of my coworkers said, "Merry Christmas." I had already become uncomfortable with celebrating Christmas because I had stopped being a Christian. I tried to say Happy Holidays instead, and a large number of customers were extremely rude about it. (For example, lecturing me that the store was making money off Christmas, and therefore I had an obligation to wish them a Merry Christmas, or just leaning in and hollering Merry Christmas into my face.) I tried not to let it bother me. A large number of customers were extremely rude about a lot of things, and Christmas seemed low on the list of things that I wished they'd be polite about.

Last year, I was working in a bank. once again, there was no direction from above about what to say. And although my coworkers were more adamantly Christian than those at the bookstore, I noticed immediately that they said "Happy Holidays," and I felt better-- more welcome, more wanted. I felt less like I was required to hide my infidel status. I felt like even though I didn't have a tree up at home and wasn't expecting any presents, that they still wanted to wish me a good day.

This year, it's somewhat different. There's been almost a complete turn-around in coworkers and the customers are more comfortable with me because I'm no longer new. Every third customer greets me with "So are you ready for Christmas?" I don't take offense-- it is my job not to take offense, and they patently can't imagine anyone not celebrating Christmas, and I know these people and know that they don't mean any harm. But I do feel like I would be regarded as a dangerous freak if I said that I don't celebrate Christmas and didn't have the good excuse of being Jewish or something.

Deflecting and dealing with Christmas greetings is part of my job, just as being polite when someone wishes me a "bless-ed day" is.

But it sometimes seems like my current round of co-workers don't feel the same need to be polite when someone says that they are not Christian or don't celebrate Christmas. One of the ladies there threatened to hit a boy with a ruler when he said he was an atheist. Two customers told me that atheists think that they believe in nothing, but really they're all money-obsessed, greedy bastards. The same co-worker who said that she would hit the boy who didn't believe in god also sneered that I shouldn't accept Christmas presents from customers because I don't celebrate Christmas. And another coworker started giving me tracts when I told him that I wasn't Christian and didn't appreciate him agreeing with customers that atheists are in fact money-grubbing bastards.

Does it really matter whether people say Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas? No, not really.

But I must say that I feel like a second-class citizen at my job vis-a-vis Christianity and Christmas. Not all the time, but only when it comes up.

And I found the coworkers who chose to say happy holidays were a group more inclined to show empathy for the outsider, less likely to make me feel like I had to hide my differing beliefs in a closet, and perhaps they were better Christians for recognizing that some people were different from them, and that making those people feel isolated was not the Christ-like thing to do. I miss those people so much.

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Amanecer
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I'm agnostic and I have no problems hearing "Merry Christmas" or saying it. In fact, last week was the end of my semester and I must have said it at least twenty times when saying goodbye to people. When I have a family of my own, I absolutely intend to celebrate Christmas. I think Christmas has become so seperated from Christ that it really doesn't have to be a religious thing. I say, for those who chose to make it religious- enjoy. For those of us who don't- still enjoy.

Dean, I'm curious, why would you refuse a Christmas gift? Is it simply that it's coming from a Christian with the expectation that you are Christian? What if they knew you weren't Christian and wanted you to have a gift simply because this is the time of year that people give gifts to those they care about? What if it was from a non-Christian?

I see Christmas as a time of love and uniting for everybody. I don't think the religious aspects, which are now essentially optional, should turn it into the reverse.

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dean
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I have never refused a Christmas gift. My coworker, knowing that I don't celebrate Christmas and am not Christian, said that I ought to refuse them.
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Amanecer
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Oh, I see. I misunderstood your meaning in that statement. That's horrible that your co-worker would do that. [Frown] What a horrible attitude. Gifts are given out of caring for others. They don't come conditionally depending on your faith. At least they shouldn't.
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tern
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quote:
Students ARE diminished if their personal story is not acknowledge, but the stories of other students are. So you've either got to acknowledge all of them individually, or all of them collectively, or none of them. Otherwise you're being a bad teacher.
I rather disagree. What you are describing is an ideal, but it isn't one that should be mandated. Nor should one be considered a bad teacher. What do you do about Jehovah's Witnesses? They don't celebrate Christmas, so either you acknowledge their religion by not acknowledging Christmas and thereby offend the Christians, or you offend the JWs by acknowledging Christmas. Lose-lose situation.

The whole point of school is to gain an education. Self esteem and happiness and the avoidance of offense are completely beside the point. (Otherwise, I've got a lot of schools to sue for twelve years of misery.) In my experience, the invocation of the word "offense" is all too often just a way to quash beliefs that one does not agree with.

I'd really just rather have teachers concentrate on teaching the 3 R's and wishing people whatever happy holidays as they see fit, then trying to be a musical multicultural jukebox of variated holiday joy.

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Paul Goldner
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"I rather disagree. What you are describing is an ideal, but it isn't one that should be mandated. Nor should one be considered a bad teacher. What do you do about Jehovah's Witnesses? They don't celebrate Christmas, so either you acknowledge their religion by not acknowledging Christmas and thereby offend the Christians, or you offend the JWs by acknowledging Christmas. Lose-lose situation."

You acknowledge their religion in OTHER ways. If you positively acknowledge those who celebrate christmas, then you need to positively acknowledge other groups. You don't have a lose lose situation here, at least in the arrangement I describe, because at some other point the teacher positively affirms the JW's self story.

"The whole point of school is to gain an education. Self esteem and happiness and the avoidance of offense are completely beside the point."

Its funny... self esteem and happiness are CENTRAL to gaining an education. If you don't have a happy student, or one with good self-esteem, what you DO have is a student not reaching his potential.

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tern
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quote:
Its funny... self esteem and happiness are CENTRAL to gaining an education. If you don't have a happy student, or one with good self-esteem, what you DO have is a student not reaching his potential.
Again I disagree. First and second generation Asian-American students do so well because their parents emphasize hard work, and not self-esteem. We're too concerned about whether or not the student feels good that the basics of an education suffer.

The whole squishy idea of "affirmment" is again, unnecessary. While I don't like the attacks on Christianity in the schools, whether the schools "affirm" it or not, Christianity will go on. And so will the other religions.

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the Voice of Reason.
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quote:
Perhaps you should include on your list that the members of the population who used to be called "second class citizens" are now called "Christians".
Tern, it's so absurd to think that.
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tern
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My point was more that it's also absurd to think this:

quote:
"Perhaps you should include on your list that the members of your population who used to be called "second class citizens" are now called "students"."

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Dan_raven
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See, I don't have a problem with tern or anyone else wishing me a "Merry Christmas." It is his, Christian, wish that I have a good day on Christmas. Others wish me to have a good time with my family in a more secular way, but use the same words. I do not care.

I do have a problem if my employer required that I say "Merry Christmas" to all my clients, even if I were not Christian. And I'd have a really big problem working under those conditions if I were a devout Chistian. Wishing someone a "Merry Christmas" for purely economic reasons, so they come to my store and spend money, with no Christian thought behind it is a devaluation of the Christianity in Christmas.

Bayer created both the term "Aspirin" as well as the Acetominophine (spelling?) formula. It was a great hit. It was so great a hit that they lost the trademark on the word "Aspirin" since its use became so generic.

Jello came close to having the same problem with their gelatin. Xeroxing became a verb that almost cost Xerox the trademark on their own name. Photoshop is a trademarked term for Adobe, but its common use for computer cropped photography has already put it at risk, and will get you a nasty legal letter if you use the term publically.

Each of these companies have taken steps to remove thier trademarked name from the generic uses.

For decades many Christians have tried to do the same, with giant billboards proclaiming "Put Christ Back in Christmas" and "Don't forget the Reason for the Season".

But this political demand that Christmas be the generic retail greeting used by all companies nationwide is driving the word Christmas into generic status.

It is a cultural issue. We have Christmas sales not because of any religious signifigance of a sale, but because we have done it in the past, and change must be bad. The cultural warriors are more concerned about fighting change than they are about seeing how the fight hurts Christmas.

Chist's birth has little to do with the giving of presents to each other. Santa doesn't have a Church Attendance or Baptismal requirement on his deliveries. It has a lot to do with American and European cultures. Santa truly only visits those influenced by those cultures. As a member of that culture, whether you are a believer or not, you get to be visited by Santa and keep the gifts.

Oh, and you may want to let Ruler Lady know that you can't gain converts with violence. A smack with a ruler is much more likely to drive someone away from Christ than to drive them to him. Also, the bible states "Thou Shall Not Bear False Witness Against Thy Neighbor". The lies they are assuming on all athiests are such false witnesses. Suggest they read thier bibles a little better and truely understand what Christianity, not blind obeidiance, is all about.

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Will B
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When I wish someone a Happy Hannukah, I don't in the least remove any religious content from Christmas! How could I? Is Hannukah an anti-Christmas?

But when I forbid them to wish me a Happy Christmas, or sniff when they refer to Hannukah, that *does* remove religious content. Even worse, it removes friendliness.

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MrSquicky
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David,
Perhaps you live in a much different world than I do. From where I live, people who are not Christian have plenty of opportunities to learn how to deal with people looking down on them and not respecting their religion. Non-Christians are very used to not having their beliefs respected and being treated as lesser than Christians. Maybe, where you live, they only get this through preferential treatment of Christians by schools, businesses, and the government.

I'm all on board with kids needing to develop personal strength. However (and again, maybe my world is very different from yours), I don't see that the opportunity to do this is limited to this instance. Rather, what I see is places, like the government and school, that people should expect equal treatment from no matter what their religion is, giving Christianity preferrential treatment. It is important for kids to develop personal strength, but it is also important for them to develop trust in things that they should feel trust in.

As I've said, I find this specific instance not particularly important, but the underlying ideas that "real" Americans or kids from your school or, as kat said, Boy Scouts, etc. are Christian and that removing Christianities priviledged status and making it, in official standing, equal to other religions is an "attack" on it I consider very important.

And do you honestly think your snarky email or many Christians' whining and dishonesty and playing the victim are signs of personal strength? Because I see them as the very kind of wimpy behavior that you seem to be saying is bad for the minority kids to learn. Does being in a majority make it okay?

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Lisa
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I think the people who are trying to prevent others from saying Merry Christmas are going too far, and I wish they'd just stop it.

But there is a real issue here. Look, I have a big mouth, and I'm pretty blunt (and fond of understatement, obviously), but I'm not the only one who is afraid of what's going on with Christianity in this country. And just so that Christians here won't feel picked on, I fully expect the Muslims to be even worse once they get their numbers up to the point where they feel comfortable going mano a mano with you.

We're afraid of you. You can say all you want about the dark history of Christianity being "un-Christian", but such abuse has shaped all of Western culture. We are afraid of you.

I've heard people on Hatrack itself say that America is and ought to be a Christian nation. Given Christianity's history, how can you not understand the real terror that such statements cause?

When any position contrary to Christian views (unplugging the brain-dead, abortion, keeping prayer out of schools, equal rights for gays and lesbians) comes up, the people who are most commonly associated with violent reactions base it on Christianity.

Are these people Christians? Well, when you want to talk about being 90% of the country, everyone claiming to be a Christian is a Christian. But when you want to talk about how loving and sweet Christianity is, every single counter-example is dismissed as "not really Christian". You want to have it both ways.

Fear breeds hostility. And when a big scary group that has a history of violence against others begins getting radicalized, there's a lot of fear.

Rather than complaining about the hostility, perhaps you should look inwards and ask yourselves whether the hostility might not be caused by something you're doing. And that the best solution might be to stop doing it.

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Paul Goldner
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"Again I disagree."

Tern-
You might want to look into actual educational research on this. Happy self-confident students do better then unhappy students with low self esteem.

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