While at a party several Christmases ago I was talking to a teacher from a local private school. During the conversation I asked her 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. Instead of acknowledging Christmas they celebrate something called “Winter carnival.” “It’s gone back to the pagan celebrations,” she conceded.

Putting the religious issue aside, there is a cultural issue. 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. In this country Christmas lights even provide a glowing backdrop to Hanukkah. 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 Pilgrims, refused to celebrate Christmas dismissing it as being religiously insignificant. What has evolved though is a gentle and spirited holiday 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: May we grow to appreciate all cultures, even our own.




BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT: Errol’s Laborde’s books, “New Orleans: The First 300 Years” and “Mardi Gras: Chronicles of the New Orleans Carnival” (Pelican Publishing Company, 2017 and 2013), are available at local bookstores and at book websites.