Tuesday, 4 December 2007

(Christ/X)mas

A few stories in the press have got me thinking about christmas/securalism/”christianophobia”.

The first was a story in the “torygraph” which was picked up by the BBC. It claimed that in a survey of 100 schools, only 1 in 5 was having a nativity play. This was, it was claimed (with no quotes from the schools/local authorities/etc to back their propaganda up), “because schools don’t want to upset non-christians” and held up as an example of political correctness gone wrong.

Sorry but the rag has got it wrong.

Thinking back to my primary school days (over 20 years ago) even then we only had 1 nativity play in 4 years. The rest of the time it was plays based on fairy tales, or classic children's stories. This wasn’t due to political correctness either (the only non white was a Sikh classmate of mine...) no it was because school found it boring to produce the same play every year and wanted to mix it up a bit...

next...

Tory MP Mark Pritchard is calling for a parliamentary debate on what he is calling ”christianophobia”. He wants the country’s “Christian tradition” protected (oh yes he quoted the bogus nativity play “research” as evidence...). He went on to say "It's gone far enough. If there are those who want to see the Christian church reduced to the margins in this nation they should have the courage to say so, rather than using the rights of other religions as an excuse."
Well maybe he should check out the facts... less than 6% of this country goes to church on a regular basis... the church IS on the margins... and whilst I’m not happy about this I don’t think attacking multiculturalism is the answer (unless you’re a tory who is frightened that the BNP are getting your votes...)

But (before you write me off...) I was saddened on sunday to go to a christmas shop. There were over 20 different snowy town scene you could buy, but only one crib set... yep, we’ve forgotten the origin of christmas...

6 comments:

Johnny said...

Do you find yourself saying happy holidays or having to remind yourself to say merry Christmas to Christians?

It is interesting to me that nativity plays are even put on in public schools here. I'm pretty sure that wouldn't happen in the US!

Andrew said...

actually we don't really have much of a tradition of using happy holidays/merry Christmas as a salutation here. Its usually only said in the context of Christmas itself (a party maybe, with your family/friends on Christmas day, etc.)

Schools (usually primary schools)will put on a play and get most of the kids involved, but it hasn't necessarily been a "nativity" play for a long time... I remember putting on productions of "snow queen", a christmas carol, etc... Yes there has been a shift away from nativity plays but its not because schools are worried about offending non-christians. Its because it gets boring putting on the same play every year and we stopped being a christian society a long time ago.

I find it so strange that those who bemoan the "lack of a christian heritage" in the UK probably haven't been to church for years (apart from a wedding/funeral/carol service)!

Maggie said...

Dear Andrew, have just been to Stephen's school's nativity play. There are a handful of Muslims and very few church goers among the 400 children, however, the nativity play was traditional, the carols too. On St Andrew's Day the had an assembly, Stephen took part, and again Jesus was there as the went back to Andrew meeting Jesus. Comment to Johnny, not sure where you are from but I don't think Happy Holidays is a British saying at all. Here we often say 'Have a good Christmas' whereas in the summer we might say 'Have a good holiday.' Regards to all Maggie/.

Amber said...

I have found myself more and more saying "Happy Holidays" however Merry Christmas has so much more meaning to me. A few days ago I was in a Safeway (like Tesco's) where they have a Starbuck's inside. I overheard a man actually arguing with the Barista stating that he was offended by the Merry Christmas written on the chalkboard. I noticed today that the entire holiday motif on the chalk board has been changed to a more general "happy holiday" theme. This saddens me. The worst thing I see anywhere is when people write Xmas on items. Boxes, cards, paper referred as Xmas items. What is Xmas? I don't know of any holiday celebrating X....! I wish we could all not take ourselves too seriously and just enjoy the time and the real meaning behind it.

Andrew said...

Thanks Maggie- I guess they forgot to call Stephen's school! I don't have anything against nativity plays- I just think the argument going round for their decline is false. I'm glad to hear that they do still happen and that the kids/parents/communities still enjoy them.

Amber- maybe Xmas is more of a UK thing?

But yes, lets all remember why we have this day in the first place

Amber said...

I was being sarcastic to prove a point. That there is no holiday about X, however there is a fabulous holiday about Christ that we as a society all too soon forget. I hate when I see "Xmas" in stores. For some reason writing out the name of Christmas offends some and is too much for others (I blame laziness?). Even my grandmother wrote on my gift check this year "For Xmas" which drove me nuts. As for the nativity plays I was in a few when I went to private school, however in public school they were more recitals with singing etc and very little acting. The songs were of course Christ focused as most Christmas songs are, go figure. No one seemed to have a problem with that.