Sunday, December 22, 2013

"Holidays Around The World"

My youngest boy is going to public school rather than our church's Christian school. I've heard from several friends and relatives that they're concerned about rampant secularism in our educational system.

Naturally a lot of these concerns over secularism revolve around Christmas. Personally, I find it a little funny that in a country where the first colonists the kids learn about - the Puritans - were steadfastly against the practice of Christmas that there should be this much concern over how the holiday is taught, but that's an outsider's perspective.

For the most part, they haven't done a lot with Christmas. They made a gingerbread house (well, coated a juice container with chocolate and candies and made it into the shape of a house) and sang some carols in music class, but not much else. This week, we got the titular handout, "Holidays Around the World."

There are two periods of ceremony - Hanukkah and Kwanzaa - and five geographical areas - Mexico, Germany, US/Canada, Scandanavia and the Netherlands.

The ceremonies are pretty straightforward, describing the types of people most likely to celebrate them (Jewish people and African Americans respectively, of course), a brief description of a ritual like, "They celebrate the Festival of Lights by lighting one candle of the Menorah each night until all eight candles are burning together," and then talk about their food and gift-giving traditions.

This same is repeated for all five geographical areas. A description of the place, in this case, and then food, traditions and give-giving. The gift -giving in Mexico is by the Three Kings from the Bible account, while in Germany, Kriss Kringle gives gifts while Hans Trapp brings switches to the bad kids. The Netherlands Good Santa/Bad Santa team-up is Sinter Klaas and Swarte Piet. The US/Canada has Santa Claus, of course, Scandanavia has Little People who deliver presents - Sweden's is Juletomten, and Norway and Denmark have Julenisse.

And that's about it. There some detail given - apparently Dutch children has the tradition of leaving carrots for Sinter Klaas' horse, which is similar to the local tradition of leaving food for Santa's reindeer, which I thought was interesting.*

According to Bill O'Reilly, this is the part in the script where I tie my underwear in knots and have an attack of the vapours over the lack of reference to Jesus.

Nah. I'll skip that.

See, I don't really want my son's school to talk about Jesus. Their job is to teach him reading, writing, penmanship, arithmetic, music theory, singing, art, critical thinking, biology, chemistry, ecology, sportsmanship, teamwork, leadership and . . . well, a lot of stuff, okay. I'll teach him about Jesus. It's a dad's job after all (Ephesians 6:4), not the town's job.

Here's the US/Canada section in full:

"Christmas in Canada and the United States is a busy time of shopping, baking, decorating, and preparing for December 24. The week between Christmas Eve and New Year's is when most parties and celebrations take place. Families generally follow customs from their ancestors.

The gift bearer is Santa Claus. He lives at the North Pole with Mrs. Claus and the elves. They make presents and Santa delivers them in his sleight pulled by eight reindeer. Santa slides down the chimney and leaves the presents in stockings hung there.

Most homes set up a well-decorated evergreen tree. Brightly coloured lights are strung inside, outside, and on the tree. Sending Christmas cards is a popular tradition with many families, too, as is singing carols. Christian families celebrate the holidays with special church services on Christmas Eve and Day."

I'm really trying to figure out where, as a Christian, I'm supposed to find the bits that offend me here. Keep it up, Epsom Central School, and I hope your staff has a merry Christmas. (And if you want to wish me happy holidays, I promise I won't offense.

* For those curious, we never told our boys that Santa was real. We told them the story and let them decide if they thought it was true. Graeme only believed it for a year so, Brandon for less. They still love all the traditions associated with Good Saint Nick.

1 comment:

  1. (nods) Makes sense.

    For my own part, I was raised an Orthodox Jew, and have always had mixed feelings about how Christmas and Hanukah are handled. The feelings have changed as I've grown older, but remain mixed, and my attempt to articulate them here got really long and kind of off-topic, so I moved them to my own blog instead.