Friday, December 15, 2006

Trying to Banish Christmas

A few days ago, a Toronto judge ordered a Christmas tree moved out of the courthouse lobby and into a less-frequented corridor, out of fear the tree would offend non-Christians.

What made me feel a real sense of pride in being a Canadian is the universal backlash that greeted this judge's decision, especially by the non-Christians she was trying not to offend. The president of the Muslim Canadian Congress, Farzana Hassan, gave perhaps the juiciest quote: "This is stupidity and takes political correctness to new heights. We should ban political correctness, not the Christmas tree."

Manuel Prutschi, the executive vice president of the Canadian Jewish Congress had a similar quote: "The presence of the Christmas tree is a symbol for a lot of people — believing Christians and perhaps non-believers — of a joyous holiday, and we respect that and acknowledge that."

As of a few minutes ago, the Globe and Mail article on the subject had gathered 132 comments, almost all of them lashing out at the judge's decision.

One thing I like about Canada is the unity we seem to find around Christmas time. Many immigrants like the way Christmas is celebrated in Canada, and adopt this holiday, even if it is not part of their own traditions. A large number of Canadians (including many non-Christians) put up Christmas trees and exchange gifts on December 25, even if they do not celebrate the religious aspects of the holiday. One of the Globe and Mail comments that seems to echo this sentiment the best:

Hamid Azari from Canada writes: This is sheer non-sense? Why can't I share and participate in the happiness of my neighbour, my friends and my fellow country man. Why would the happiness of my country man alienate me? Aren't there enough issues and divisions in this world in the name of religion etc. etc. that you are making an issue out a non-issue? As a born muslim, I beg you not to protect me in my name in this fashion. This is the height of absurdity. Enough of divisions. Enough is enough.

I couldn't have said it better myself.