Dec 17, 201207:10 AM
The Editor's Room

Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde

Daring to Say 'Christmas'

While at a party a few Christmases ago, I was talking to a teacher from a local private school. During the conversation she was asked how they celebrate Christmas at the school. “We don’t,” she answered. “We have many cultures there and we don’t want to offend anyone.”

That answer offended me; the thought of denying kids of any cultures the excitement of Christmas seemed like political correctness going amuck.

 

A few days later, I was talking to a friend who taught in the Orleans Parish school system. She said it was the same way at her school, too. Instead of acknowledging Christmas, they celebrate something called “Winter Carnival.” “It’s gone back to the pagan celebrations,” she conceded.

 

Putting the religious consideration aside, there is a cultural consideration. Christmas is part of the culture of this nation and it should not be denied.

 

Those who say that one culture is offended by the celebration of another are speaking on behalf of the politically uptight - and not for the majority of people of all cultures who rejoice in each other’s celebrations. (If I lived in another country with different traditions, I would certainly not expect their customs not to be celebrated out of fear of offending me. To the contrary, I would rejoice in their traditions and want to take part in them.) In this country, Christmas lights even provide a glowing backdrop to Hannukah. The celebrations do not compete but complement each other.

 

Christmas is NOT Christianity's most sacred day. Easter is. In fact, some of the most devout Christians, the early Puritans, refused to celebrate Christmas dismissing it as being religiously insignificant. What has evolved, though, is a gentle and spirited holiday that is a reflection of many cultures and many lands - a celebration that we speak of as being "merry" more often than as being holy. Christmas is itself a blend of many ancient traditions and beliefs. It can be both spiritual and secular. Either way, it is part of the nation’s heritage.

 

Yet, it is being denied in our schools. Despite that, I will dare to make this wish: Have a meaningful Christmas, and may we grow to appreciate all cultures, especially our own.


 
 
Krewe: The Early New Orleans Carnival-Comus to Zulu by Errol Laborde is available at all area bookstores. Books can also be ordered via email at gdkrewe@aol.com or (504) 895-2266.

 
WATCH INFORMED SOURCES, FRIDAYS AT 7 P.M., REPEATED AT 11:30 P.M.WYES-TV, CH. 12.   

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The Editor's Room

Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde

about

Errol LabordeErrol Laborde holds a Ph.D. in political science from the University of New Orleans and is the editor-in-chief of Renaissance Publishing. In that capacity he serves as editor/associate publisher of New Orleans Magazine and editor/publisher of Louisiana Life magazine.

Errol is also a producer and a regular panelist on Informed Sources, a weekly news discussion program broadcast on public television station WYES-TV, Channel 12. Errol is a three-time winner of the Alex Waller Award, the highest award given in print journalism by the Press Club of New Orleans. He also received the National and City Regional Magazine Association Award for Best Column for his New Orleans Magazine column, beating out 76 city magazines across the country. In 2013, Errol received the award for the "Best News Affiliated Blog," awarded by the Press Club of New Orleans.

Errol’s most recent books are Krewe: The Early Carnival from Comus to Zulu and Marched the Day God: A History of the Rex Organization. In his free time he enjoys playing tennis and traveling with his wife, Peggy, to anywhere they can get away to, but some of his favorite spots are the Caribbean and historic locations around Louisiana. You can reach Errol at (504) 830-7235 or errol@myneworleans.com.

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