Retailers Cave to Pressure a Week Before Black Friday

The American Family Association  won what they consider two key battles in the War on Christmas just a week before Black Friday 2007. Targeting Lowe’s Home Improvement Centers and Petsmart for being anti-Christmas, their campaigns to spread the word have resulted in immediate backpeddling by both retailers.

In seasonal advertisements and catalogues Lowe’s has been derided in the media for referring to classic Christmas trees as “Family Trees”. Internet backlash was swift and severe against the published political correctness of Lowe’s who decided mid-week to issue a statement claiming the more than 33 printed references were a “publishing error during the creative process (duh).

Petsmart is reportedly responding on Monday to AFA claims that less than 30% of their ads make use of the word “Christmas”, substituting the word “holiday” instead.

Santas Get Last Laugh in Ho-Ho-Ho Debate

A California-based temp staffing agency banned the phrase “Ho-ho-ho!” for Santas they were employing in the South Pacific. Their training of new Santas suggested the term could be taken as an offense to women, especially in light of the Don Imus flap earlier in 2007.

A wide-spread media campaign brought attention to the policy only after experienced Santas employed by the agency protested and refused seasonal assignments in New Zealand.

Shopping center representatives, who initially backed the policy, are now saying the phrase is an “important Christmas tradition”.

Public Fervor Displays More Than 2000 Nativity Scenes

Putting Christ back into Christmas is the theme underlying a display of nativity scenes that has grown to more than 2,000 in the past three years.

“It’s growing because of the people, not because of us. It’s like a groundswell,” said Flora Nabrotzky, the organizer of the 11-day exhibit.

“I think it’s a wonderful barometer that people care about spiritual things by supporting this and showing their nativities and for a few days at least, the commercial part of Christmas isn’t as strong.”

Nativity scenes spanning the spectrum of cultures and ethnic diversity take over Walkerton’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Nativities in the displays range from the size of a thimble to one that’s larger than life set up outside the church.

“When we started three years ago we had 1,003. Last year we had just over 1,500. This year the floodgates are open. There are over 2,000. People keep bringing them right up until before we open and we still put them up,” said Nabrotzky, a floral designer who takes a week off work each year to set up the display with the help of a handful of volunteers.

Nabrotzky said even she is surprised at the growing interest in the event, which continues to attract submissions from farther afield.

This year’s display includes nativities from more than 135 churches from Cambridge to Kincardine, Wingham to Owen Sound and points in between. “We’ve actually received nativities from all over Ontario and some from the United States,” Nabrotzky said.

A wide variety of cultures are represented – from Asia and South America to Egypt, Europe and First Nations.

In the Inuit crÅ che, carved from black soapstone, the shepherds are replaced by polar bears, seals and walruses all bearing gifts while the lone wise man offers a large fish to the mother of the new-born Christ.

The nativity scenes are made from materials ranging from coconut shell, crystal, Popsicle sticks and pewter, to soapstone, glass, straw, gingerbread, barn board and ivory. Some are more than 100 years old and provide glimpses into the lives of people who created them. Several are hand-carved, one-of-a-kind family heirlooms.

The most colourful are those created by school children from simple materials such a construction paper and glue or pipe cleaners.

Joan Borho of Formosa has three nativity scenes from her collection of 13 in this year’s display.

“Over the years I saw one and said ‘Oh, that’s nice’ and bought it and saw another one and bought it. I was surprised at how many I have. Probably a lot of other people have more in their homes than they realize,” said Borho.

The displays are alongside what is almost a path that winds its way through the rooms and along the halls of the small church.

Nabrotzky said the design for this year’s display, which is bathed in the glow from thousands of tiny lights, came to her in a recurring dream.

“I kept having the same dream over and over again and I just reproduced what I saw,” said Nabrotzky. “The idea really came from God.”

BBC Claims Global Warming Killed Christmas Tree

They’ve got a big tree they string lights on every year in a festive pre-holiday event. That tree is now dead and the BBC clearly labels global warming as the cause:

Christmas will be coming a little late to Belfast this year after a mini global warming disaster struck the city’s Christmas tree.

The 45ft Norway Spruce tree from Parkanaur near Dungannon, was cut down last week.

However, it quickly began to split in two.

A council spokesman said: “The wet summer and unseasonally dry autumn had a devastating effect on the tree but we hope to source another immediately.”

Time’s running out for the council though, the big switch on of the Christmas tree lights is due to take place on Tuesday, November 20. About 15,000 people are expected to attend.