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Sunday, December 19, 2004

Just Leave Christmas Alone

Charles Krauthammer writes against the attempts to "de-Christianize Christmas" in the US, for the sake of not offending "religious minorities". He pokes fun at the lengths some public and commercial organizations go to in order to avoid specific references to Christmas, or give Hanukkah an equally prominent footing (just because it happens to take place around this time of year).

I couldn't agree more. When I grew up in Italy, the international school I went to had a Christmas party every year, with a show put up for the parents. The school was not religiously affiliated in any way (despite being named after a Christian saint), yet all children took part in the celebration. I remember singing Christmas carols and acting out some of the nativity scenes. One year we even sang "Holy Night" in several languages; I admit singing layla kadosh did seem a bit weird, but it was all part of school life and at no point did I feel my religion was pushed aside in favour of another. Perhaps it was the naivete of my young age.

From my personal experience I can fully sympathise with what Krauthammer write:

Some Americans get angry at parents who want to ban carols because they tremble that their kids might feel "different" and "uncomfortable" should they, God forbid, hear Christian music sung at their school. I feel pity. What kind of fragile religious identity have they bequeathed their children that it should be threatened by exposure to carols?

I'm struck by the fact that you almost never find Orthodox Jews complaining about a Christmas creche in the public square. That is because their children, steeped in the richness of their own religious tradition, know who they are and are not threatened by Christians celebrating their religion in public. They are enlarged by it.

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