Does Christmas Need Jesus?
A well intentioned colleague asked me a few days ago if our Christmas message to clients should drop any reference to Christmas given many of our clients are not Christian and we look after a fair number of Muslims, Jews, Agnostics, Buddhists, Atheists and goodness knows what else.
The concern was that we might perhaps cause offence to those that are not Christian.
She received short shrift (in good humour).
I had only a few days before mocked the utter stupidity of the Auckland Regional Migrant Services Trust (ARMS), an organisation known less for its services to migrants but more for one of its former leaders having a well publicised affair with the Mayor of Auckland, over their instruction to staff about Christmas.
These lunatics had sent out an edict to their staff telling them to drop any reference to Jesus, Christmas or Christianity in the ‘Seasons Greetings’ message. Didn’t wish to cause any offense or alienate any of the people who had chosen to come and live in our (historically) Judeo-Christian nation.
I am not a Christian (nor anything else) but Christmas is a Christian festival. A day when Christians historically celebrated the birth of their main man, Jesus. Whether you believe in all that or you don’t makes no difference, it is still a Christian festival – so why deny it?
This PC rubbish was brought home to me even more as I wandered around the shopping malls of Singapore last week. Where the Christmas decorations and the mind numbing Christmas carols are being pumped out from 1 December. Ad nauseum. You can’t move without tripping over tinsel and Christmas trees. I doubt most Singaporeans are Christian and I doubt in Singapore Christmas has much to do with Christianity, rather rank consumerism at worst with a touch of spending a day with friends and family at best. Singapore’s God is ‘Work’.
Fast forward a week to Kuala Lumpur.
Last night I was sitting in a night market enjoying cheap street food and reflecting on this PC nonsense in countries like New Zealand when in the heart of Chinatown in a city of several million Muslims I was forced to listen to old Frankie dreaming of a white Christmas (in 33 degree heat…).
Malaysia is a Muslim country! Very Muslim. Everywhere I look there are mosques. From my hotel room window I can count six! Yet no one seems to get more into Christmas than Muslim Malaysians.
They lap it up.
When discussing this with a few potential Malaysian clients they just laughed and said like all these festivals in countries like this it is more about having a good time and getting a break from work. It ain’t any different where I come from. Or Singapore for that matter.
We don’t need to forget nor be offended by the historical basis of the festival do we? Surely it is important that as the mighty dollar muscles out the raison d’etre of all these major festivals it is still nice (not to mention appropriate) to acknowledge that countries like mine are more interesting for the various belief systems and religions that the people who live there hold close.
Who that has moved to New Zealand is going to be offended if they are wished a ‘Merry Christmas’ anyway? No migrant I have ever met.
No one ever apologises to me at the end of Ramadan. Nor should they. Eid is Eid. Hari Raya is Hari Raya. Chinese New Year is Chinese New Year. They don’t change the name or reference its origins in order not to cause me offence (I’d be offended if they did).
No one should forget what Christmas is based on – whether it is your religion or forms part of your belief system or not.
New Zealanders should never apologise for remembering Christmas for what it is meant to be (rather than what it has become).
There is much I love about New Zealand but this ‘PC’ stupidity is both shocking to me and also a bit frightening. It disrespects every migrant that has chosen to come and live the New Zealand life – whether they have a God in that life or not and whether they believe or they don’t.
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