Christmas, by any other name

Published 11:11 pm Wednesday, December 7, 2011

As the city of Suffolk prepares for its annual holiday parade, it’s time once again for the frustrating recent holiday tradition of calling city leaders to task for their refusal to acknowledge the holiday that we celebrate with that parade.

In their press releases and announcements for the various events lined up in support of Christmas, Suffolk officials steadfastly resist referring to the holiday by name. Instead, it’s a “Holiday Parade” that will take place Saturday evening. Citizens are being encouraged to participate in Suffolk’s new “Holiday Neighborhood Decorating Contest.” The theme for the month-long celebration is “Light Up the Night with Holiday Spirit.”

The word “Christmas” is nowhere to be found in any of the documentation sent out in support of the events. In this, Christmas is different from any other holiday that Suffolk recognizes. Halloween was mentioned in at least two different press releases sent out in October, including one that announced a Halloween Festival at the East Suffolk Recreation Center. Veterans Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day all are safe from the ravages of political correctness. New Year’s Day will be celebrated as the beginning of the new year.

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Only Christmas, with its reference to Christ, whose birth many, though not all by a long stretch, people celebrate on Dec. 25, has been abolished from Suffolk’s vocabulary of holidays.

City officials, most of whom do not hesitate to wish folks a Merry Christmas personally, claim they refuse to acknowledge Christmas publicly in an effort to avoid seeming exclusive. Yet they continue to give employees Christmas Day as a holiday, they take great efforts to ensure that Santa — the secular symbol of Christmas — has a prominent place in Suffolk’s celebrations and they allow Christmas trees to be erected in various city properties, though they insist on calling them “holiday trees.”

Hence, their message is a mixed one, and their objections to calling the holiday by its religious and secular name ring hollow, at best.

Whatever Suffolk officials decide to call Christmas, citizens of all heritages will continue to celebrate it, and the vast majority of those who do not will find no reason to object to the others calling the holiday what it is — Christmas.

Christians, those followers of the child born in a manger in Bethlehem about 2,000 years ago, will celebrate the coming of the savior. Non-believers around the city will mark the day with gifts and time spent with family and friends. And it will still be Christmas, no matter what Suffolk officials choose to call it.