Monday, December 26, 2005

Losing Christmas

My son had a holiday concert at school on Friday. It wasn't a Christmas concert -- and I have no problem with that, because it's true. All of my kids go to very multicultural schools. Most of the kids at the schools are Muslim, with minorities who are Hindi and Christian, and an even larger minority have no religion. Having a Christmas concert would be unrealistic and would be pandering to a vocal minority of parents who resent the cultural changes our society is still adapting to.

Other years, presentations have been done to explain Eid or Ramadan, Chanukah, Diwali, Kwanzaa etc. and the presentations about Christmas have all been to explain 'Santa Claus'. The Christmas songs are of the 'Frosty the Snowman' genre. All of the other religions are portrayed with reverence and while the Christmas one is usually fun, there is no explanation of the underlying reason for the season. This has always bothered me, but I'm not the sort to make a fuss, so I've said nothing.

This year it was different. This year they acknowledged the Christian aspect of Christmas with a raucous, loud, hip-hop rendition of 'Silent Night' because the real song is 'boring.' I've found the same thing with television -- some kids shows have taken Christmas hymns and put funny lyrics to them -- the Arthur Christmas special did this several times, having one of the younger characters not know or misunderstand the words of 'We Three Kings' and 'The First Nowell' and sing something entirely off base.

The fact is, I'd rather the school have ignored the traditional carol rather than bastardize it. For those of us who celebrate the birth of Christ, the traditional carols are not boring. It isn't that I don't have a sense of humour. Unlike "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" and "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" etc. hymns are songs of worship and I resent their being abused by the secular establishment for a laugh. The message the school conveyed by using this hymn was that traditional Christian worship is a drag and that it needs real world influence to make it worthwhile.

I have adapted to the secular culture. I don't say Merry Christmas unless I know I am speaking to Christians. I don't expect a Christmas concert at the public school when I have a church around the corner. I don't expect religious music when I'm shopping at the mall.

But I also don't expect to hear sacred Christmas hymns with their words changed for a laugh (as was done in 'Arthur's Perfect Christmas'), or the music 'updated' to suit a contemporary audience as was done at my son's Christmas concert.

Silent Night is the quintessential Christmas carol because of its simplicity. It doesn't require rapification to make it relevant. It is relevant because its sweet melody is like a lullaby and its words are welcoming the birth of the Christ child. A hip-hop score might be fine to liven up 'Blue Christmas' or 'Winter Wonderland' but it isn't appropriate for a sacred hymn.

We don't lose Christmas when the secular world celebrates along side us with its Santa Claus, its Star Wars and Dale Earnhardt holiday tree decorations, its 31 day advent calendars that celebrate the coming of the new year, we don't lose Christmas when the secular world ignores the birth of Christ in its 'holiday' festivities -- but we risk losing Christmas if we do nothing when the secular world appropriates the sacred songs and symbols of Christianity and holds them up to ridicule and scorn.

I will be writing a letter to my son's Principal and asking that future winter festivals exclude mention of Christ, unless they handle it with the same respect and dignity afforded the other religions represented. Better excluded than distorted in parody.

Anyway, Merry Christmas all.

canadianna

6 comments:

Mike said...

Haha. I'd like to see the principles reaction to that letter. What are the chances that in years past he's been bombarded with complaints from other Christian parents about the lack of Jesus content? He'll read your letter, throw up his arms and sigh "you just can't please these people."

Candace said...

I'm with you, Canadianna. I was delighted that my daughter's public school did an actual Christmas concert for a change, and did it with style & respect. In previous years they have done a mixture of things, but the Christmas carols/hymns have been done using the original lyrics, as were the Hannukah songs (My Dreidl comes to mind).

Exclusion would be much better than mockery.

INP said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
INP said...

My daughter's school actually used an over head projector to display the words of some songs on a screen for everyone to sing. One was "Joy to the Word". You know - "the LORD is come, Let Earth receive her KING." None of the many non Christians present seemed to mind. Anna, I'm sorry that you feel uncomfortable saying Merry Christmas to non Christians. It's attitudes like that, that cause people to lose their culture. I beg of you to reconsider. And anyway, as a conservative, you must be used to neurotic politically correct dolts being offended at some of the things you say.

John the Mad said...

I hope you post on thhe principal's reaction to your complaint. It is, of course, entirely valid.

I'm just grateful my kids can go to a publicly funded Catholic school so they can have a e=real Chritian Christmas concert with Mary, Joseph, the Baby Jesus, angels with bent halos and shepherds in bathrobes.

John the Mad said...

I hope you post on thhe principal's reaction to your complaint. It is, of course, entirely valid.

I'm just grateful my kids can go to a publicly funded Catholic school so they can have a real Christian Christmas concert with Mary, Joseph, the Baby Jesus, angels with bent halos and shepherds in bathrobes.