How to Solve the ‘Christmas in Schools’ Problem
We can solve the whole 'do we celebrate Christmas in schools?' question by doing one of two things.
These two solutions are actually the polar opposite of each other, though.
I don't have a horse in the race. This isn't an issue that riles me up, or gets under my skin. While I do look back fondly on some school holiday celebrations, I'm not outraged by either side of this topic. However, I thought of a solution, so I'm sharing it.
Separation of Church and State
Our founding fathers were Christians, there is no doubt about that. Also, they gave God a big role in forming the country, by placing mention of the deity in various high profile slogans and creeds (see official motto of the United States).
However, an important founding principle was also the idea of the separation of church and state, and the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Though the founding fathers were Christians, it seems that they included those ideas so that people were free to practice whatever religion they wanted, even one that differed from the version of Protestantism being practiced by most of the men who wrote the documents that formed our country.
And, as much as you might not like it, the whole country was founded on the idea of religious freedom, no matter what that religion is.
If you want to practice satanism, it's your right. If you want to practice radical Islam, that's up to you. Short of breaking the law, in America you can practice however you like.
Being that separation of church and state is such an important concept, if all government institutions had to become completely secular, including schools, I would understand that.
So, the one way to solve it is to completely remove all holiday celebrations from public, government/taxpayer funded schools.
However, that way would suck, so...
Celebrating holidays in schools or at workplaces is a cultural thing. We gather together, decorate to a theme and engage in activities that reflect the special occasion we are celebrating. The celebrations come from our history and who we are as a people.
We should celebrate those things, because they are our culture. Most people in America celebrate Christmas.
Kids love Christmas. Kids go to school. Kids love Christmas celebrations in school. It might be because they love Christmas, or because, like in my case, they just like having something different to do in boring school.
These celebrations are a reflection of the majority culture.
Those in the minority, though, should be accounted for as well. I believe that each and every different religion could be considered in the calendar year, according to the students currently attending.
If there are some Jewish kids, there should be a menorah. The more kids from a religion different from Christianity, the more significant amount of time and space that should be given to their celebrations, in addition to the Christmas celebrations. If there are some Muslims, recognition of their major holidays should be represented.
This could be done not on an 'equal time' basis, but more like a 'percentage time' basis.
If a child is in a school that is mostly Christian, expect the biggest celebration to be of Christmas. If the second biggest group are Jewish kids, their celebration or representation might not be as significant, but it should be there. And so on.
Rather than insulate everyone from religion, which isn't an accurate snapshot of human society, celebrate according to who currently attends.
Yes, the recognition I am talking about for minority religions would be less significant, and could even be considered a token. If the minorities want it to be a bigger celebration, the only real solution is going to be to go where they are in the majority.
If you are a non-Christian and you don't like the Christmas celebration, you live in the wrong place. That's how it is when you are in the minority. You are surrounded by people who are different from you. It doesn't make them bad, and it doesn't make you bad.
But don't stop everyone from having their celebrations because you aren't in the majority. The reason why people around you are celebrating in a way that is different than yours is because of where you live. You live in a place where most of the people are different from you. It's understandable if that is intimidating, or off-putting at times.
However, if you really don't like being the minority, well, I'm not sure what to say. It doesn't seem that there are a lot of solutions. Either find a way to like it....or move. Right?
I am not taking the 'love it or leave it' stance here. What I am saying is that if you are living in America, no one is forcing you to live where you live. If they are (wife, children, family, job), and you don't like it, I am sympathetic for your situation. However, that doesn't change the essence of the freedom that does exist. You are legally free to live where you want. If your life situation doesn't afford you that luxury, that is sad. But it isn't a reason for Christmas celebrations to stop.
If I move to Riyadh, I certainly wouldn't expect them to put up a Christmas tree. If you live in Anywhere, America, it's going to be green and red from November to January.
There are places on the Earth, no matter your religion, where your religion is the main one practiced. It might not be easy for you to go there, it may be in a different country, but if that is what is really important to you, it is there. You can go.
Plus, inclusion of the minority religions with focus on the majority religion could create very teachable moments, showing kids that not everyone celebrates Christmas or worships Jesus. It could show minorities that while we won't stop celebrating our culture, we do want to learn about yours as well.
In different places with differing cultures, people celebrate different things
In the Muslim world, the society stops for prayer five times per day. In America, you get Christmas Day off.
That's how it is. Yes, I'm offering you a big, fat, 'That's just way it is' sandwich.
Cultural sensitivity is good. We should be aware of it, practice it, and understand its importance. But too much of it makes culture go away. Let's allow the cultural sensitivity to teach us things about those that are different than us, rather than it attempting to make us all the same.