Winter Decorations for “More than Christmas” Holidays
There are December Holidays for non-Christians, you know
Winter Decorations for “More than Christmas” Holidays
a/k/a (Sneaking) Multicultural Holidays into a Santa Claus World
I live in the USA. We have some good, some neutral, and some bad practices – just like every other place in the world.
Separation of Church, State, and Business
One feature of life in the United States is that our founders separated our government from any particular religion. We do not have a “state religion.” Thus, in theory, we should avoid the trouble that England had a few centuries ago with “Are we Catholic or are we Protestant?” based on who was Queen for the day (Mary Queen of Scots versus Elizabeth I.) That has been a good notion, in my opinion.
That being said, over a few centuries our country still seemed to develop a culture of Protestant Christianity as the dominant faith. In public schools, the day often started with singing, a pledge to our flag, and recitation of a Protestant version of a Christian prayer (The Lord’s Prayer, also known as the Our Father.) Although hardly at major levels, local villages and towns used tax money to decorate the government building for the major Christian holidays or to hold events for children connected with those holidays.
Then in the latter part of the twentieth century, Americans realized that the many peoples who come to our country no longer assimilate completely into this mainstream Protestantism. We formerly referred to our collective group of citizens as a “melting pot.” This meant that everyone’s heritage blended into one uniform culture. Now we refer to our people as a “patchwork quilt.” Our new citizens and our longer-established ones retain pride in their heritage. We can accept differences and respect them. So says the law of the land. We returned to the spirit of our national Constitution. Or, did we?
Dominance Dies Hard
The government agencies seem to understand and implement neutrality in the workplace. Kudos to them! However, it is still possible to encounter hypocrisy or prejudice in businesses and privately owned workplaces.
A friend’s employer has stated that the workplace is secular and non-religious. Therefore, in December it may be decorated only in Santa Claus themes. The friend bemoans the fact that this policy is disguised religious prejudice: Santa Claus is deemed ok because He is not a religious identity. However, someone is ignoring the connection that Santa always comes on the birthday of Christ. In contrast, dreidels, a Jewish Hanukkah top, are not ok for this workplace – they are considered to be religious. By the way, decorations of brightly wrapped gifts are also permissible. (Would you like to place a bet on what colors will be used in the gift wrap paper?) Big sigh…. [The answer is red and green.]
My friend, unfortunately, is letting this get under his skin. So, like little kids, we conspire on how we can sneak other cultures’ winter holiday symbols into this Middle-Class-Protestant-Mainstream-White-Bread-Land.
This holiday basically uses lights and fireworks to celebrate goodness winning over evil and the start of a new year. It falls in October or November...close enough to December. Here is how we are going to sneak a traditional clay lamp into Santa Land:
Surround a tealight candle with red or green Sculpey clay. Decorate the circumference with gold rickrack or small decals. On one side, attach either a gold pipe cleaner or gold ribbon as a fake handle. However, we will know that it really represents the flaming wick on the side.
The dreidel is tricky because the top, itself, was a trick to get religious teaching past the Occupying Army’s awareness. So, we’ll pass on that and just sneak in a yarmulke-wearing snowman. We’ll make it look like a knit cap. I was thinking of Star of David for eyes, buttons, but I think that will be too obvious. Just stick with blue and white as the white of the snow and blue scarf and cap. Also I considered making the buttons look like latkes, but that is way too crazy – warm fried potato pancakes lining up on the front of a cold snowman?
Praise to Buddha
Buddhist Bodhi Day
This holiday celebrates enlightenment – more candles! Plus, a little, round belly that shook when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly – this is TOO easy! A small Buddha statue in a Santa outfit!
A Festivus pole for the rest-of-us. This is intentionally pretty plain. Hmmmm…..how about a single color pen stuck vertically in a gob of Sculpey clay? It works. We can call it a pen holder so as not to arouse suspicion.
It is the dawn of a new century. The changes in awareness which have occurred over the last century have been momentous. Let us hope that in a hundred years from now, people are not concerned about something so trivial as sneaking winter holiday symbols into work because the Golden Rule of Christianity has holes in its application. We can only hope. Maybe Santa will bring acceptance and respect for Christmas?
Jingle all the way, baby.
Text copyright 2011 Maren E. Morgan
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