6 Dec. 2021 6:25 am
The debate over replacing the word “Christmas” with “bank holidays” has flared up again following comments from the British Government. This is not about promoting “inclusivity” – it is another attempt to reinterpret our culture. One should oppose that.
A comment by Frank Furedi
It seems that members of the UK Cabinet believe that the UK government’s pronouncements should not relate to the coming Christmas season as they could exclude members of the population who do not celebrate that day. State officials who view inclusion as a quasi-religious creed have tried to suppress the slogan “Do not take Covid home with you for Christmas” and replace it with “Do not take Covid home with you on the holidays” in a campaign aimed at university students. In the end, common sense was preserved and, for this year at least, the word Christmas was saved.
The interesting thing about this incident is not only that conscientious members of the language police have tried to ban the word “Christmas” and replace it with the supposedly neutral and harmless term “holidays”, but that parts of the media elite think that those who get angry about it, overreacted.
In one items in the Huffington Post the author Sophia Sleigh dismisses those who were startled by the Cabinet’s attempt to ban the use of the word Christmas and describes the incident as a “nonsensical cultural dispute”. For them, this was just an attempt to “make an anti-Covid campaign relevant to those who don’t celebrate Christmas”. That omitting the word “Christmas” would make the government slogan proposal far less relevant to the vast majority of the British public is not of concern to the inclusionist crusade.
In the last 25 years there have been numerous attempts to de-legitimize the public value of Christmas. And every time objections are raised to the attempt to marginalize Christmas in society, parts of the media react with incomprehension. In fact, they often claim that fears about banning the word “Christmas” are unfounded in reality. They claim that the “war against Christmas” was an invention of right-wing culture fighters.
A long essay in the New York Times, entitled “How the War on Christmas Came up,” illustrates how the war on Christmas is fought. Anyone who reads this text would conclude that this war is an invention of right-wing culture fighters like Donald Trump or the media personality Bill O’Reilly.
Although Christmas has retained the public’s affection so far, it has repeatedly been targeted by avid advocates of identity politics. Take, for example, the decision of the Birmingham City Council to rename the 1998 Christmas celebrations “Winterval”. The city council justified its linguistic caper with the hope that it would create a multicultural atmosphere that would correspond to the reality of the ethnic groups in Birmingham. After church leaders had reacted disapprovingly to this renaming, the city council allowed “Christmas” again with little enthusiasm. Since that Winterval affair 23 years ago, the status of Christmas has become increasingly precarious. Numerous commentators responded to the question of whether “Merry Christmas” should give way to “Happy Holidays”.
With the institutionalization of the multiculturalist ethos in schools, universities, the public and private sectors, people are under constant pressure to adopt the vocabulary of inclusion. In some cases, the traditional Christmas celebration has been renamed to break the event from its Christian roots. In 2013, for example, a school in Texas decided to rename Christmas “Winter Party”.
Despite the attempt to deny that there is a systematic attempt to de-legitimize the central importance of Christmas, there are serious indications that this question is completely intertwined with the identity-political thought scheme. This is made clear by a statement by American commentator Melissa Mohr: “The use of ‘Merry Christmas’ is a difficult practice. The choice between clinging to traditional congratulations or the more politically correct ‘Happy Holidays’ is shaped by differences in ideology, age, geography and Gender. The person most likely to insist on ‘Merry Christmas’ is a Republican man over 60 living in the Midwest; the archetypal proponent of ‘Happy Holidays’ is a young Democrat, 18 to 29 years old who lives in the Northeast lives. “
Mohr found that the attitude to the debate about the term “Christmas” compared to the term “holidays” is strongly influenced by the respective political orientation. She cited a 2016 poll by the Public Religion Research Institute when asked, “Do you think that out of respect for people of different faiths, stores and corporations should wish their customers ‘Merry Christmas’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas’ ? ” 67 percent of Republicans answered no and 66 percent of Democrats answered yes.
Attitudes towards the Merry Christmas debate are probably even more polarized today. It is also worth noting that the Public Service Brigade in Great Britain has no difficulty in expressing its messages specifically on Muslims Eid to acquire.
This debate is not just about the use of language or respect for people of different faiths. The real debate is whether or not an important religious festival associated with the culture and tradition of European society should be brushed aside like a statue of an outmoded historical figure.
The attempt to separate Christmas from official and public life is linked to the even broader project of decoupling Europe from its past and reinterpreting the culture of nations. It is an elite project that has no public support. But if we do not condemn the attempt to dethrone Christmas as a dominant role, one day we will wake up to find that something very important in our lives has been lost.
Frank Furedi is an author and company commentator. He is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Kent at Canterbury and author of How Fear Works: The culture of fear of the 21st century. You can find him on Twitter at @Furedibyte follow.
More on the subject – In the trend of diversity: EU directive wanted to abolish the word “Christmas”