Friday, November 02, 2007

Some holidays are more equal than others

According to the Institute of Public Policy Research, Christmas should be publicly celebrated in Britain only if other religious festivals are marked as well.

WTF? UK is a Christian country, the church and the state are not separated, and the vast majority of the population are either Christians or atheists or agnostics originally from Christian families, who also tend to celebrate Christmas. The minorities who do not celebrate Christmas either have grown up in UK and therefore should be accustommed to the fact that Christians celebrate Christmas, or have at some point moved to the UK and have hopefully figured out that the place is full of Christians before moving.At least I remember that when I moved to Finland my parents warned me that the place is totally full of Lutherans.

Did anyone ever even poll the minorities on this issue?

We Jews do not celebrate Christmas. Some of us pointedly avoid doing anything Christmacy, most just don't celebrate it in any active way. If Christians also stop celebrating Christmas, what is gonna be there for us to pointedly avoid? More importantly, who is gonna make the rice pudding? Are we gonna have to do it ourselves? Shit.

I gladly accept Christmas invitations from friends. OTOH if some official power tried to force me to celebrate Christmas, I'd be the first to remind them that everyone is not Christian, and tell them to bugger off. I hope most normal people understand the difference.

Multicultural practices, however, are fairly diverse, and in a somewhat different spirit of multiculturalism a schol in England ordered all its students and teachers to dress up as Muslims (no, I don't think they meant explosive belts) and celebrate Eid. Let's all dress up the same in order to celebrate diversity. etc. (As an aside, since whoever thought up this idiocy was apparently not a Muslim, somebody should ask them which Eid they were forcing everyone to pretend to celebrate. I think all Muslim holidays are called Eid, or at least all the festive ones.)

Now, Eid (Eid ul-Fitr, I assume in this case) is reasonably fun to celebrate, according to my relatives who have done so. Somehow, I think most of the fun goes out of it if you try to force a schoolful of people to celebrate it, especially in hijabs. I also think that this does not promote much goodwill on anyone's part.

Now I am really curious whether the school will go on with this new fine tradition. Will everyone be forced to celebrate Christmas? Diwali? Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur (he was a Sikh guru who got killed for refusing to convert to Islam, which would make for a rather embarassing multicultural celebration)? Passover? I am sure all the Muslim students would be delighted to bless wine in Hebrew.

I guess that the British idea of diversity now is that some holidays are forcibly taken out of the public sphere, whereas others are forcibly put into it. Maybe someday somebody there will come up with the revolutionary idea of letting people celebrate whatever holidays they feel like celebrating.

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