Nothing Gay from Hallmark for Christmas

Nothing Gay from Hallmark for Christmas

This almost has to been seen to be believed: Hallmark has released a new ornament featuring a Christmas sweater on a hanger that says “Don we now our fun apparel”.

Yeah, those aren’t the words.

The century-old privately owned $5 billion specialty retailer included the above ornament in their 2013 Keepsake ornaments collection, and now they’re finding they have to defend their decision to change the five-hundred year old lyrics.

“When the lyrics to ‘Deck the Halls’ were translated from Gaelic and published in English back in the 1800s, the word ‘gay’ meant festive or merry,” Hallmark’s Kristi Ernsting told The Huffington Post in an email. “Today it has multiple meanings … the trend of wearing festively decorated Christmas sweaters to parties is all about fun, and this ornament is intended to play into that, so the planning team decided to say what we meant: ‘fun.’”

This politically correct twisting of Christmas carols is nothing new. Can you name these other festive Christmas tunes that have been…modernized?

1. Divine natal celebration devoid of color as a hallucinatory phenomenon for me
2. Precious metal musical devices
3. Venison with vermillion olfactory appendage
4. Do you perceive the same vibrations that stimulate my auditory sense organ?
5. Vehicular homicide committed on Dad’s mom by a precipitous darling
6. Frosty the Snowperson
7. I’ll Be Home for a Short Period of Time in December
8. O Holiday Tree
9. Have Yourself a Merry Little Day of Winter
10. Higher Power Rest Ye Merry Gentlepersons

Dutch Reject UN and Criticism of Black Pete Tradition

Dutch Reject UN and Criticism of Black Pete Tradition

Hundreds of marchers in the Netherlands showed up Saturday to confront critics of the Dutch Christmas tradition of Black Pete. Earlier in the week the UN Human Rights Commission blasted the practice with comments from the Jamaican chair of a committee at the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Verene Shepherd, bluntly told Dutch television that “the practice must stop”.

“The working group cannot understand that why it is that people in the Netherlands cannot see that this is a throwback to slavery and that in the 21st century this practice should stop,” she told the Eenvandaag show on Tuesday.

“As a black person, I feel that if I was living in the Netherlands I would object to it,” she said.

Ms Shepherd provoked further Dutch fury by suggesting they adopt a US-style “Santa Claus” instead.

As many as 500 marchers, some of them dressed as Black Pete, protested for two-and-a-half hours in Malieveld,” a park in the centre of The Hague, police spokesman Cor Spruijt said.

“Black Pete” accompanies Saint Nicholas during a children’s festival on December 5, when the Dutch give gifts to each other.

The character, who arrives on a gift-filled boat from Spain, is typically dressed in a gaudy medieval costume and afro wig, with his face painted black and lips red, prompting charges of racism.

Opponents say the character recalls the time when Dutch colonists exploited slaves, notably in the Caribbean colonies of Suriname and Curacao.

Supporters of “Black Pete” angrily reject such accusations, offended at any suggestion that a character so central to Dutch culture could be racist.

A Facebook page protesting the call for ending the tradition of Black Pete has become a record-setting page for that country with more than 1 million likes in a day. The page has more than 2 million likes now.

The backlash at the UN suggestion has some backpedaling in the fight against the tradition. Marc Jacobs, a Belgian Unesco representative, the UN’s cultural organization, has denied that the Jamaican who signed the letter, was authorized to do so.

“She’s just a consultant who abused the name of the UN to bring their own agenda to the media. All the hoopla that Shepherd has caused with her letter is nothing more than a bad move in the game of pressure groups in the Netherlands,” he told the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper.

Maine Christmas Tree Honoring Vets Called Tacky

Maine Christmas Tree Honoring Vets Called Tacky

Fox News is all over this story, as is the local media in Maine where the town council of Bar Harbor has decided to ban a Christmas tree honoring vets who fought at the Battle of the Bulge in World War II because the tree was “tacky” according to town manager Dana Reed.

The tree began just two years ago when an organization called Wreaths Across America asked for and received permission from the city council to put lights on a tree with a small plaque nearby that read:

The Christmas They Never Had. Wreaths Across America dedicates this perpetually lit tree in honor of those men and women who in service to our Country, were separated from loved ones during the holiday season. Regardless of religious beliefs or creed their sacrifice must always be remembered. July 9, 2011.

The lighted tree and plaque were particularly intended to honor and remember veterans of World War II. It was dedicated at the urging of Battle of the Bulge, POW and WWII survivor and Wreaths Across America board member Stanley Wojtusik of Philadelphia. “The Christmas They Never Had” is a reference to the holiday that was missed by members of the military in 1944.

Earlier this month, however, the Town Council declined to extend a two-year lease it had granted Wreaths Across America. It gave the organization 30 days to remove the lights.

“I don’t believe a Christmas tree is a universal symbol,” said council chair Ruth Eveland, who joined the majority in a 4-2 vote against renewing the lease.

“I believe that was the case” with some opponents, she said Friday, that they objected because the plaque referred to Christmas and they were not Christians.

“My reason for voting against it was I didn’t feel it belonged on town property,” said Eveland. “We already have a veterans memorial plaque on a different piece of town property. I felt that was adequate.”

The fact that the lighted tree was a memorial to veterans who had to miss a family holiday gathering because of the war was “too complicated a symbolism,” said Eveland, and was “not meaningful” to some, including veterans.

“I even heard it from people who said they were Christians,” she said.

The existing plaque on the village green is a “more universal symbol than a Christmas tree,” said Eveland.

Eveland said she could not quantify the number of complaints the Town Council received from constituents. She heard from as many constituents as on any of the other controversial issues that have come before the Town Council, she added. When asked about how many, she indicated approximately 10.

It sounds like the town council of Bar Harbor, Maine could use a good lesson in the American history of the Christmas tree as a symbol of freedom.

Dutch Tradition of Black Pete Under Fire at the UN

Dutch Tradition of Black Pete Under Fire at the UN

The month of November sees the launch of an annual Christmas festival for children built around the characters of Sinterklaas — the Dutch version of Santa Claus — and his noted sidekick, Zwarte Piet or Black Pete. The tradition of the festival dates back five centuries and the popularity of Black Pete in particular has grown immensely since the early 20th century. But now there groups calling the character of Black Pete a racist caricature and are asking Amsterdam city officials to pull the permit for the popular annual festival.

The media today is reporting the issue has now reached the UN Human Rights Commission.

Just as the history of Santa Claus has morphed over time so too has the history of Black Pete evolved.

Black Pete’s role has always represented a more sinister component of the celebration of Christmas for children as he carried either a stick for beating children or carried a large sack for kidnapping them. Ancient tradition tied the origin of Black Pete not to Africa, but to Spain, which occupied Holland in the 15th century.

Over the past 100 years or so the character of Black Pete has softened considerably. Once dressed in pirate garb, wearing earrings and a jaunty feather, the character morphed from the more serious imposer of punishment to a willing servant of Father Christmas whose job it was to remove hay and carrots from children’s shoes and replace them with candy and gifts.

What has not changed is the black face — and Sinterklaas shows up at the festival with dozens of Black Petes — typically white people wearing blackface makeup with red lips and curly “Afro” wigs.

On Thursday, dozens of protesters overflowed a hearing about the permit at Amsterdam City Hall.

One of 21 people who filed formal complaints, Imro Rietveld, described growing up as the only black-skinned child in his class. Every year, he said he was subjected to a month of taunts such as “your whole family is coming over in the boat” and “can you do tricks?”

He said some people are afraid to speak out against Black Pete because they are worried about being ridiculed or even losing their jobs, and he had been warned against coming.

“For the good of all the children,” Rietveld said. “This should actually be changed in the whole country.”

Opponents say the Sinterklaas festival should continue, but Pete’s appearance should be changed.

Mayor Eberhard van der Laan will rule on the Amsterdam permit by the end of the month.

Backlash Growing Over Thanksgiving Retailers

Backlash Growing Over Thanksgiving Retailers

Macy’s announced a change in tradition by declaring their 800 stores will open on Thanksgiving Day. JCPenney quickly followed suit. These announcements have given rise to open revolts online by employees and shoppers who would rather keep Thanksgiving a day where stores are closed.

Nearly 7,000 people have signed on to a Facebook page declaring opposition to Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving Day.

Similar efforts were launched last year and some employees threatened to strike retailers who scheduled them to work the holiday. The effort fizzled and stores enjoyed record sales on Thanksgiving Day 2012, which was very heavily promoted.

While some contend the department stores such as Macy’s are merely squeezing an extra day out of a short holiday selling season (Thanksgiving falls on November 28th this year) others say they are merely following discounters such as Walmart and Kmart who have pushed the trend of Thanksgiving operations in recent years.