To the editor:
I have just returned from England where people are preparing for Christmas. The word is mentioned in the press, in stores and in many cultural events. A few years ago Birmingham (UK’s second city) banned Christmas activities and signs in all its municipal spheres. They reversed that policy when various ethnics groups (Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus et al) challenged that outlook stating that they were not offended at all by Christmas. Birmingham now celebrates Christmas in many creative ways. All of this in a country that has far more non-Christian groups than Canada
Two years ago in Cologne, Germany, I visited the Christmas markets. They are more than commercial places but centres where culture, tradition and spirtuality are freely expressed. Cologne has pedestrian precincts downtown where major department stores have in their window Christmas tableaus which are such a delight to children and families. I was recently on Regent Street in London where the Arab perfume shop had a huge Happy Christmas displayed in its window.
I am saddened by the deliberate attempt to eliminate the word Christmas here in Canada. It is now gone from most shops, media and cultural outlets despite an AP poll two years ago that about 75 per cent of people polled preferred Merry Christmas to Happy Holidays.
When I lectured in Pakistan and Bangladesh it was the time of Ramadan and I was glad to wish folk there my warm greeting for their festival. I am delighted to wish my Jewish friends Happy Hannuka. I am saddened at the erroneous idea that we promote new cultures only by downgrading or marginalizing older ones. We are poorer not richer for doing so.
I want to celebrate the diversity of culture in Canada and affirm other customs than my own. I don’t want a nostalgic, Dickens-esque Christmas but I do want to affirm this important celebration for Christians and their high festival of Christmas.
Dr Robert L Roxburgh, West Kelowna