From ‘Religious education in England ‘needs overhaul’’ to ‘Christmas is cancelled: Italians outraged over school decision to ban festivities’… the news is riddled with journalists and experts questioning the approach school’s take to religious education. But are do we actually need reconsider celebrating Christmas in the future?
On the one hand, many people would agree that Christmas is so over-commercialised that there is really nothing religious about the celebrations and, as it is adopted by the vast majority of atheists and non-religious people in England, it seems nobody has a problem with adopting this religious festival as their own. So people shouldn’t feel bad if this Christian celebration is given preference over their own.
On the other hand, the UK becomes more and more multicultural celebrating Christmas in schools may start to upset people with different religious and cultural beliefs. As Professor Adam Dinham, author of the ‘RE for REal’, explains: "We think non-believers and those with informal beliefs need to be treated more seriously as a growing part of the picture." So it could be argued that solely celebrating Christmas in schools is hurtful for this process of blending different beliefs and cultures and keeping traditions alive.
Christmas is a long-standing tradition in both religious and non-religious schools so why shouldn’t they keep doing it? If a child or their parents don’t want to celebrate Christmas they are free to opt out of the celebrations.
Opt out? It’s not like the Christmas celebrations are refined to the last day of term. Christmas classroom activities, preparations and decorations take place all the way through the month of December and is unavoidable in most schools.
All children love Christmas. However not all families can afford to celebrate Christmas with lots of presents and a massive roast dinner. So shouldn’t children from disadvantaged background get the chance to celebrate at school just like everyone else? Isn’t the idea of gift giving and Christmas Jumper Day all about helping people in need? Should we all make the most of this opportunity to help others regardless of religious or ethnic background?
The example set by the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi earlier this week, who caused outrage for banning and Christmas concerts and carols, could be said to be in line with the ‘RE for REal’ reports call for greater sensitivity in the name of accepting a more multicultural society. Marco Parma, an Italian headteacher who prompted the ban, certainly believes this is true: “In a multi-ethnic environment, it causes problems, last year we had a Christmas concert and some parents insisted on having carols. The Muslim children didn’t sing, they just stood there, absolutely rigid. It is not nice watching a child not singing, or worse, being called down from the stage by their parents.” So maybe I was wrong and not all kids love Christmas afterall?
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