An early season debate on Christmas lights in Sweden has led to significant misunderstanding in that country. The government there recently announced a ban on Christmas lights that are traditionally hung from street light poles.
Some right-wing media outlets (Infowars and Breitbart) took the story and ran with it, claiming the country was trying to appease Muslim immigrants with the move.
The truth turns out to be something less spectacular. Christmas lights will be banned from utility poles only this year. Lights will still be permissible — and given Sweden’s love of Christmas — still visible everywhere else.
The problem has more to do with an aging infrastructure and the question of who pays for electrical costs than what the lights are actually for. This situation has been building for years and the government is merely stopping a practice that should have been brought under control long ago for safety and cost reasons.
There is some debate within Sweden that the restrictions are a bit too much. But those arguments in debate have more to do with the potential impact more darkened streets will have on commerce than they will have anything to do with Christmas or Muslims.
Sweden, like many other countries in Europe, has problems like any other country. But a love of Christmas isn’t really one of them.