The media just can’t wait to castigate anyone who touches Christmas in August (or September or October). It is, after all, Christmas Creep Season — that time of year when the media loves to report that greedy corporate interests are pushing Christmas too early and too often.
In the news from New York are the reports of Christmas music being played at Pret A Manger, trendy famed sandwich shops with locations around the world, and the “torture” they have imposed on their employees and customers by playing Christmas tunes over loudspeakers during the heat of August. The music is centrally broadcast and was played at all locations. On it’s Facebook page, the company says “Whoops!”, citing a technical error.
But that’s not the story we were told by employees and customers. One manager noted, “It was obviously done in error and we had a good time with it. Customers laughed it off when we explained that we couldn’t get hold of anyone at Corporate to fix it. They said they must all be on holiday.”
Twitter did reflect customer confusion but the torture some outlets describe is hardly justified. “All these places play the same 200 tunes all year long. Do you think Christmas music we’ve heard all of our lives is going to affect us? Yeah, it was a novelty to hear it but hardly worth complaining about.” one customer said.
And now there are three: Alabama has joined Texas and Tennessee in crafting legislation that would protect the right of schools to use the term “Merry Christmas” without fear of recrimination or lawsuit. State Senator Gerald Allen, piggy-backing on a trend started in Texas with their recent passage of the Merry Christmas Bill, is pushing a bill that he said will allow for traditional holiday greetings and holiday symbols, such as a Christmas tree or a menorah in public schools.
Allen said his bill would allow schools to display symbols of traditional winter holidays such as a nativity scene, Christmas tree or menorah.
He said the displays would have to either show the symbols of more than one religion or include a mixture of religious and secular symbols.
Allen said that might include a nativity scene and Santa Claus or a bulletin board that had Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays sayings. He said the displays could not encourage the adherence to any particular religion.
Allen said he is bringing the bill to protect schools from litigation.
â€œIâ€™m convinced that there is an undeniable secular progressive agenda to remove all religious freedoms from the public square and that includes our public schools,â€ Allen said.
Allen said his bill would also protect the rights of public school educators to offer Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah greetings without fear of a lawsuit.
Allen said he didnâ€™t know of an instance where a lawsuit had been filed over such a greeting, but he said teachers and administrators should be able to express themselves without fear.
It is difficult to tell is this measure in Alabama will pick up the steam it gained in Texas. Texas has been home to several out-of-state backed lawsuits surrounding Christmas in public school and in the public arena. Alabama has not suffered from near as many high profile cases and the voting public in Alabama may see this as frivolous.
Just like eggnog, mistletoe and Santa himself, complaining about “Christmas creep” is a tradition in American media dating back decades. Ironically, complaining about Christmas in stores is happening earlier and earlier than ever before (we noticed the complaints on September 11th last year).
This year the first to speak loudly about Christmas creep is Time magazine, who will stop at nothing to remain relevant, declaring Christmas creep an “annoying retail trend”.
“We’ve just come off of Christmas in July,” noted Jeff Westover of ChristmasHistory.net, “A totally retail-driven event that puts snowmen front and center in the heat of summer and places Santa at the beach. Hallmark had a run of Christmas movies, radio stations ran Christmas music marathons, shopping channels and stores sold all things Christmas. This is a tradition that dates back sixty years or more and retail is at the heart of it. But do we hear any complaints in the media about it? No. But, if a store puts up Christmas items for sale in August or September? It somehow gives retailers a black eye for bringing Christmas too early. What ever happened to the observant media and real reporting of news?”
We will see increasing media coverage of “Christmas creep” for the next two months.
All summer long Texas made news with passage of their Merry Christmas Bill, a measure that allows the words “Merry Christmas” to be used without consequence in schools and gives freedom to teach winter holiday history without the risk of law suits. Now Tennessee wants to do the same thing.
A bill sponsored by State Sen. Stacey Campfield would allow the history of winter celebrations to be taught in schools.
The proposal would allow students and staff to use traditional greetings like “Merry Christmas.” Students could also display winter celebration scenes or symbols under certain conditions.
Sen. Campfield says people shouldn’t be limited to just saying “Happy Holidays.”
“People are terrified nowadays to practically say ‘Merry Christmas’ to anybody for fear they’re going to get sued… or ‘Happy Hanukah’ or whatever… I think, you know, we shouldn’t have that problem… If they want to say ‘Merry Christmas,’ then they should be able to say ‘Merry Christmas,'” said Campfield.
Sen. Campfield said he got the idea for the bill from a constituent who contacted him on Facebook and asked whether he had heard about the similar measure that Gov. Rick Perry passed in Texas.
Every Christmas season we receive dozens of reports of stolen or vandalized public nativity scenes from across America. Rarely is any ever caught or punished for the crimes. News out of Virginia bucks that trend when a man from the town of Forest, Virginia was tried and convicted for stealing and then destroying a nativity scene.
While he won’t have felony convictions on his record, Scott Cooley must spend a year in jail for stealing – and subsequently destroying – the Nativity scene at Shiloh United Methodist Church in Forest, a judge ruled.
Cooley pleaded guilty Tuesday to one misdemeanor count each of petty larceny and destruction of property.
He, along with two other men, initially faced a felony count each of grand larceny and destruction of property worth over $1,000.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Ayers asked Circuit Court Judge James Updike to amend the felony counts to misdemeanors at the request of church officials.
The church, while wanting to hold Cooley and his cohorts accountable, did not want to push for felony convictions, Ayers said.
She characterized Cooley as the ringleader of a group that took the nativity scene, valued at over $2,000, on Dec. 9.
They subsequently posted a picture of themselves on Facebook with the set, and later destroyed the figures, which included a baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph and three wise men.
Ayers said after reports of the theft surfaced, the group cut the figures into pieces and took them to the Bedford County landfill.
How do they say Bah Humbug down under? Australia is putting itself on the map as a player in the War on Christmas as the community of Bland Shire may be keeping it’s “Merry Christmas” banner in storage due to a new regulation that calls the phrase “too offensive”.
Under the regulation, Christmas and Easter banners would be allowed to be hung by the town council if deemed â€œpromotionalâ€ but banners would not be allowed to be hung by â€œother partiesâ€.
Former councillor David Bolte called it â€œpolitical correctness gone madâ€ when he addressed council in the public forum last week.
â€œI only ask for the right to remind the community we have the Christmas and Easter holidays because of the birth, death and resurrection of Christ,â€ he said.
Mr Bolte considered it an attack on Christian groups, questioning if the regulation was â€œdiscriminatoryâ€.
He claimed that in the last census, 80 per cent of Bland Shire residents declared they followed a Christian faith.
Mayor Neil Pokoney said a new version of the policy was being reviewed, which would see banners associated with gazetted public holidays allowed.
â€œThe wording of the regulation was just a bit too broad,â€ Pokoney said.
â€œPrior to this we didnâ€™t have regulation pertaining to public banners â€“ which is something council should be exercising control over.â€