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December 07, 2005

The HollyDazzle Day

By: Pamela K. Taylor Okay, this is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard... Newport News, Virginia, is getting ready for their annual Christmas celebration, except they aren't calling it that. They're calling it "Hollydazzle". And instead of lighting the Christmas tree, they'll be lighting the "Tree of Illumination." Who do they think they are fooling? Does anyone really imagine that American Jews drape their menorahs with holly garlands during Hanukkah? Or that Muslims put up trees (of illumination or any other sort) to celebrate Eid? Or maybe that Hindus hang ornaments off the many arms of Kali each December? Of course not! And when all the folks gather around the tree down in Newport News, waiting for the firemen to light it up, will any of them really think how beautiful the Multi-faith Tree of Illumination is going to be? Heck, no! Christmas trees are Christmas trees; celebrations where you light trees are celebrations of Christmas. Changing the name doesn't change the nature of what you are doing; it just makes a mockery of multiculturalism and the separation of church and state. The government should either get out of the business of holiday celebrations or they should practice true multiculturalism. Since the vast majority of Americans do not want the government to stop celebrating events important to their lives -- even my atheist friends and family celebrate holidays like Christmas and Easter -- the solution, clearly, is not to eliminate holidays, but to have public celebrations that actually include other faiths. Pretending that Christian traditions can be universal under a different name won’t pass the muster. It offends Christians, who rightfully do not want their holidays watered down into some meaningless, politically correct verbiage. And it offends non-Christians because such renaming is clearly nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt by some to maintain the status quo – that is to have the government continue celebrating Christmas and acting as though Christianity were the state religion, just disguising it under obfuscating titles. True multiculturalism is welcoming many different celebrations, customs, and holidays. It’s lighting a Christmas Tree one week, and lighting a Menorah the next. It’s hanging Ramadan lanterns in October and Christmas decorations in December. Some public institutions are already doing this. My children's elementary school, for instance, had winter holiday parties that were truly celebrations of winter traditions. The walls of the school were decorated with posters depicting Divali, Ramadan and Eid ul Fitr (which at the time fell near Christmas), Chinese New Year, Kwanza, Hanukkah, and various incarnations of Christmas. The parties often included songs, games, or crafts from different cultures. Children were invited to talk about their own celebrations. Our federal government has demonstrated another model – maintaining Christian traditions, while adding celebrations of other faiths to the calendar. The President still lights the National Christmas Tree, and the White House still boasts the largest wreath in Washington DC. But the President also hosts an annual Ramadan Iftar – the dinner to break fast. During Hanukkah, the White House displays a Menorah and hosts lighting ceremonies. He sends greetings to the Chinese community on Chinese New Year, and the African American community on Kwanza. That is the way government celebrations should be handled – with acknowledgement of the diversity that makes this country vibrant, and with respect for the principle that the government should not prefer one religion to another. Whether it is in one unified celebration that incorporates aspects of many faiths, or in a multiplication of celebrations doesn’t really matter so long as it is a substantive move towards inclusiveness. Lip service – coming up with feel-good names that fool nobody, and don’t please anybody – simply isn’t good enough. Copyright @ 2005, Pamela K. Taylor Pamela K. Taylor has been writing since childhood. While she makes a living free-lancing, editing, and writing copy, her first love is fiction, particularly science fiction. She is currently shopping her first novel, Beyond the Pleiades, and simultaneously working on four more. She also serves as Publications Officer and Acting Director of Islamic Writer's Alliance. Visit Pamela K. Taylor on the web at or Author's Biography: Direct Link to Article:

1 comment:

  1. Assalam alaikum

    Very well written article. It is
    true that places in N.America and
    Europe as well claim that they are
    secular countries but when you
    examine them you realize that they
    are not really secular. I mean
    look at Canada & US all of their
    national holidays are Christian
    ones. I have always found this
    unfair to the multitude of other
    cultures who are 'left' behind and
    forgotten about. If you claim to
    be a true secular country then you
    cannot give any religion
    preference, especially making
    national holidays which reflect
    one religious group. So, being
    secular and having the 'freedom of
    religion' ingrained into the
    countries laws, it would guarantee
    that ALL people, of all faiths,
    would have the rights to take off from work and school on
    their 'holy days' but does this
    happen in real life?
    No. It does not sadly.
    It is a nice change to see
    governments and people trying to
    intergrate other faiths and cultures. But I have to agree...
    calling it a 'tree of illumination'
    is bordering on insanity. I mean
    is it wrong for Christians to
    celebrate christmas? Well, to them
    no it is not, and they should
    rightly be able to celebrate it
    without government making it more
    'politically' correct. Just as they
    have rights to celebrate christmas, Jewish people have the
    right to celebrate Haunakuh and
    Muslims to celebrate Eid.
    The line 'can't we all just get
    along' comes to mind in these
    situations. Inshallah (God-
    willing) we will all do what is
    right and fair to all people of
    the world!

    (sorry long comment)