We knew this day was coming. The controversies over last year’s Christmas parades are now today’s lawsuits. The Sons of Confederate Veterans, who for years have marched with Confederate flags in Christmas parades all over the South without incident, are beginning a series of court battles over first amendment free speech rights violated last Christmas when they were told to keep the flags out of the Christmas parades.
The city of Natchitoches and its Mayor Lee Posey have been sued by Sons of Confederate Veterans because they were barred from displaying the flag last Christmas.
Thomas Taylor, the division’s former commander, said in a telephone interview that its flag-carrying members marched and rode floats in the parade for nearly two decades without causing any disruptions.
“We have never had a problem before,” said Taylor, a Sterlington resident who said the Louisiana division has about 1,250 members. “The crowd loves us, but this politically correct stuff raised its ugly head.”
The lawsuit cites a Nov. 2, 2015, letter from Posey to the parade’s organizers in which the mayor said allowing the Confederate flag to be displayed by marchers could cause “substantial disruption or interference with the parade” and could be seen as an “endorsement of a symbol that is viewed as racially inflammatory.”
Mayor Posey knew the incident would be controversial. At the time he said “To be clear, the city of Natchitoches has not banned the Confederate flag from public display. The only thing we have banned is the flag being marched in the Christmas Festival parade.”
That, according to the lawsuit, is unconstitutional. And the Son’s of Confederate Veterans are right — and should win.
It has finally happened — a retailer celebrating Christmas in July has been accused of Christmas creep. Costco stores in Canada are in the news and under assault on social media for selling Christmas items in July.
Forget the fact that Christmas in July has been a retailer tradition for more than a century.
And forget the fact that the media by and large gives retailers everywhere a pass until August 1st before lobbing bombs about Christmas Creep. Forget the fact as well that the linked news source above has broken the 20-year tradition of first complaining about Pumpkin Spice season before complaining about Christmas Creep.
This is a huge leap from standard media protocol about Christmas. This crosses a whole new line.
Christmas creep is a season that runs from August 1st until about a week before Christmas. The purpose of the season is to complain about the presence of Christmas in public in any fashion. Christmas creep is far more than complaining about retailers. It now encompasses people who hang their lights too early, cities who parade Santa too soon, towns who light trees in November and even schools who practice Christmas songs at Thanksgiving.
From this point in the calendar year forward you can expect more and more whining about Christmas in the media. And even though you won’t find a single person in your circle of influence that knows or cares about any of this the media will still claim that people all over are talking about it.
They take their Christmas seriously in Australia. The Lord Mayor of Melbourne is warning against sending Christmas cards without the word “Christmas” in them. Phrases like “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” are appearing all to often on official Christmas cards sent between governmental organizations.
Other local politicians are expressing support for the idea. Councillor John Kavanaugh is pushing for proper use of the word Christmas. “It lessens the message when you say Season’s Greetings,” he said. “I want to make sure that the message of a Happy Christmas is there.”
In fact, Kavanaugh feels so strongly about it he is putting forward a motion to require the use of “Happy Christmas” in all seasonal messages going forward on official organizational greetings.
The Lord Mayor backs the proposal. “If you’re sending a Christmas card it is not a season card, it is a Christmas card.” he said.
It should be noted that the hubbub over Christmas cards are coming after a contentious debate over Christmas decorations in this area of Melbourne known as Moreland. Money for Christmas decorations was reallocated for what they call “Moreland Celebrations”, a nod to the growing diversity of the area and a clear move away from the emphasis on Christmas.
Clearly, there is a battle over Christmas brewing in Melbourne.
They call the place Iceland for a reason. It’s cold, the weather is lousy and it’s covered in ice. It is also known for its sad absence of trees. For decades neighboring Norway has shipped a Christmas tree to Iceland for Christmas. But no more.
This week Norway told Iceland: no Christmas tree for you.
Officials say the tradition, which has lasted since 1951, ends because it’s not worth the cost or hassle. Local residents in Reykjavik however smell a rat. Norway tried to ax the tree two years ago and a large public outcry led to a reversal of the idea.
Of course, that 2014 event happened closer to Christmas. Norway has waited this year until the quiet month of July to drop the news this time. We’ll see if anyone is paying attention.
Complicating matters is another tradition held dear: Oslo’s gift of a Christmas tree to London, a tradition started as a “thank you” for allied support during World War II. That tradition, Oslo officials insist will continue.
Meanwhile, in tree-less Reykjavik, politicians there are saying the will find a tree somewhere. And gracious officials for Norway indicate they will crash the tree lighting party as always, even though the tree won’t be Norwegian. They’re not about to let a little thing like this get between them, you see.
This is the kind of thing that has a habit of coming back later during the year. We won’t be surprised to see more to this story as Christmas approaches.
Christmas trees are problematic in the southern hemisphere. While much of the world relishes a cold Christmas with snow, sleigh bells and frosted trees warm weather locales celebrate Christmas in the heat of summer. They tend to adopt the iconic traditions of Christmas the best they can — especially with Christmas trees.
Mexico and Brazil have famous larger-than-life Christmas trees made of metal structures housing millions of lights. In Australia they do much the same thing, turning the lighting of the Christmas tree into an event akin to anything done on the 4th of July in America with bbq’s, beach wear and fireworks.
But this has been a summer of discord over the topic of public Christmas trees in Australia. At issue are the thorny topics of cost and looks.
In Hobart they erected a tree that gained international attention for it’s progressive art form. As a tree it looked like anything but a celebration of Christmas. Now there are some calling for it to be replaced.
In the port city of Geelong the controversy over their expensive floating Christmas tree has raged for three seasons now. The massive tree was criticized for its cost even though the city planned huge community lighting and holiday events that drew massive crowds. Sparring political opponents took sides — and the anti-tree crowd has lost. An entire council of politicians lost their jobs over the issue and now embarrassed city officials are left to admit that, doggone it, the tree actually brought a 540% return on investment to the city. Oops.
Look for the Geelong tree to return this year with an all-new expensive star added to the top of the tree that is sure to once again be featured in international media.
We’ve been tipped off by Christmas fans in Australia of a new ad campaign by Virgin Mobile that features a grumpy, swearing Santa.
“Advertisers here are becoming more like their American counterparts every day!” one fan writes in an email. “Why do they have to show Father Christmas this way? It is not funny.”
In the ad — which touts a $100 Virgin Mobile gift card — Santa is seen lounging by the pool when he is interrupted by an elf who reminds him that he needs to send the cards as gifts for Christmas in July.
The commercial shows a very irritated Santa who tells the elves, “Pack my sack, the f*cking holiday is over”, and the elves cheer in celebration as he walks off grumbling.
The ad comes during a time when advertisers are under fire for depicting Santa Claus in a less than flattering light.
This commercial would most certainly be guilty of that:
A tax payer funded guide published by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill accuses the term and the practice of Christmas vacation of being a “microaggression”.
Microaggressions are everyday words that some interpret as causing anger or frustration in others. In other words, they are terms, behaviors or practices that cause offense.
A “Christmas vacation” is so labeled, the guide says, because “academic calendars and encouraged vacations” which “are organized around major religious observances” centralize “the Christian faith” and diminish “non-Christian spiritual rituals and observances.”
Curiously the long break between semesters at UNC Chapel Hill for the 2016-2017 academic year will last from December 17 to January 10 — thus covering Christmas as well as the New Year’s Day of the Gregorian calendar. The Gregorian calendar is named for Pope Gregory XIII. The Roman Catholic Church introduced the calendar in 1582.
So far nobody seems to be too stirred up about that.
It is important to note that the guide does not single out just Christmas as an offense. Golf outings, women’s shoes, the words “boyfriend”, “girlfriend”, “husband” and “wife” all are microagressive terms.
To save time we’ve determined that “microaggression” as a word is offensive.
Hollywood has not produced a decent Christmas movie in over a decade. But that does not mean they don’t keep making them. They’ve got a new one coming out in 2016 called Almost Christmas and they have already started marketing the film. And that has some in the film business saying, “What? It’s June!”.
Yup, Christmas Creep has come to the movies.
Almost Christmas opens on November 11th, stars Danny Glover as the patriarch of a family just recovering from the loss of his wife. They are, of course, dysfunctional, weird, twisted, gross and crude (you can watch the trailer below).
But they aren’t talking about that. They are talking – complaining – about a Christmas movie being hyped out of season.
Their justification? Read:
A Christmas movie trailer at the height of summer just feels like an unwelcome reminder that time is passing much faster than we’d like to think. Before you know it, this year will be over, and then this decade, and then the decade after that.
Yeah, we know. Pretty weak for a Christmas creep argument.
We’ll just say the movie industry should just button up on this one. If anyone is guilty of creep in any season it is the movie folks. After all, Star Wars Episode VIII comes out for Memorial Day in 2017 — and everyone already knows it.
No, what the movie industry should be working is making decent Christmas movies. This one, obviously, won’t go down in history as anything special:
Christmas creep season officially got underway for the 2016 with the airing of White Christmas on May 29th, drawing the ire of British media and on Twitter. The UK publican Marie Claire claims the British public is “outraged”.
Local television station More4 defended itself by claiming they were celebrating the original release date of White Christmas — the song — of May 29th, 1942. Most think of Bing Crosby’s White Christmas as an American song but really the song was an international smash as it became the anthem of World War II for all service and military members missing Christmas at home.
But evidently the holiday classic shown in May is too much for some Brits, who complain that even “mince pies in September” is an outrage.
The ironic and interesting sidebar to this story is that White Christmas is an entirely secular Christmas film. There is nothing religious about it. Religion overall is frowned upon generally in the UK these days and Christianity itself has waned, especially with the growing number of Muslims settling there. So this is not a protest against the religious Christmas.
This is merely an temper tantrum about seeing Christmas too soon in the UK.
An Omaha, Nebraska school board member raised eyebrows with his rant against atheists in a classic argument of whether the December off-time of students should be called Winter Break or Christmas Break.
“I’m getting a little bit tired of a minute minority in this country that keeps pushing Christmas out, keeps pushing God out, keeps pushing Christ out, when the majority is still a Judeo-Christian country,” Paul Meyer, a Millard school board member, said. “I would like to make a motion that we rename this period ‘Christmas break,’ and those atheists who don’t like it can crawl back into their hellhole because I for one will not put my lord, my god aside for a few atheists.”
Nobody supported Meyer’s outburst — or proposal.
For several years school boards across the country have grappled with how to name calendar break periods given the growing diversity of their student populations. What made this event noteworthy was that the school district made the change to “Winter Break” years ago — and little has been said about it since. There is little to support a change and Meyers appeared to be acting out of personal beliefs.
Omaha-area atheists, naturally, took offense and exception at the outburst.
“His bigoted language, telling atheists to ‘crawl back into their hellhole,’ attempts to discredit the broad range of people who support keeping government out of religion,” said Tom Gray, president of the group Omaha Atheists, who has children in the Millard school district. “If he believes we are literally pitchfork-wielding demons, then we are concerned for his grasp on reality.”
If you want to celebrate Christmas don’t go to Somalia. It has been banned there.
The government of Somalia has issued a ban on Christmas and New Year’s celebrations in the Muslim country, saying the festivities “have nothing to do with Islam.”
“We warn against celebration of Christmas, which is only for Christians,” Sheikh Mohamed Kheyrow, director of Somalia’s ministry of religion, said on state radio. “This is a matter of faith. The Christmas holiday and its drum beatings have nothing to with Islam.”
It was not immediately clear what prompted the government announcement. Somalia is almost entirely Muslim, but it hosts thousands of African Union (AU) peacekeepers, including from the majority-Christian countries Burundi, Uganda and Kenya.
The country, which is struggling to emerge from two decades of fighting and chaos, has also seen a growing number of Somalis returning from Europe and North America, sometimes bringing foreign traditions and attitudes with them.
Officials also said that Christmas celebrations may attract attacks from the Islamist militants al Shabaab.
“Christmas will not be celebrated in Somalia for two reasons; all Somalis are Muslims and there is no Christian community here. The other reason is for security,” Abdifatah Halane, spokesman for Mogadishu mayor, told Reuters. “Christmas is for Christians. Not for Muslims.”
As they do every year a group calling themselves American Atheists have erected billboards encouraging people to “skip Church” at Christmas. This is your war on Christmas in a nutshell: attack the religious.
Showing Santa Claus — a figure of antiquity who was a member of the clergy and true believer in Christ — the billboard proclaims: “Go ahead and skip church! Just be good for goodness’ sake”.
The message is anti-religion. It is anti-Christmas. It is anti-Christ.
And it is an affront to many atheists. Surveys have long shown that most atheists celebrate Christmas inclusive of the traditional icons and symbols of the season including Christmas trees and Nativities. While most claim to do so for sentimental reasons they also see no harm in retaining those symbols during a season long lauded for peace, service and “goodwill to all men”.
As is typical, the group posted the billboards in two states highly saturated with Christian believers — and expected the media to carry the message forward. The media has cooperated fully, as it always does.
A spokesman for American Atheists, Randy Gotovich, told Fox News 21 in Colorado that their goal is not to attack Christmas but to make the holiday more inclusive for people of different faiths.
“We’re trying to be inclusive of everyone in Christmas and saying that anyone can celebrate it. It shouldn’t be viewed strictly as a Christian holiday,” he said.
This kind of weird messaging flies in the fact of most American Atheist activities, including the removal of nativities from public spaces and the singing of Christmas carols in schools.
First it was Starbuck’s Christmas cups that didn’t say Christmas. Now it is Reese’s Peanut Butter Christmas Trees that actually look like turds.
This isn’t news, folks.
But the Internet is burning up over the product that for years has been marketed as a chocolate-peanut butter Christmas tree. It has been around for almost 22 years but only now does the world noticed and, boy, is it pissed.
The outrage that only social media can generate is epic against Reese’s feeble Christmas-tree efforts.
Reese's trees do not look like trees and it's upsetting
Once again the will of a singular school superintendent is overtaking a town Christmas tradition. In Marlborough, New Hampshire the town has an annual tradition of lighting a Christmas tree. A local veteran plays Santa and rallies the community every season to attend. When he went to a local school to speak to students he was called and told to remove “Christmas” from the name of the event.
John Fletcher, the commander of the American Legion in Marlborough, New Hampshire, wrote an editorial in the local paper after he said the superintendent barred him from promoting the event to students unless he changed the name of the event.
“I was very upset, I really was,” Fletcher said. “If it’s not a school sponsored activity, I don’t understand why ‘Christmas’ had to come out of ‘Christmas Tree’.”
Fletcher, who also raises money to buy gifts for children who attend the event, said a few days after Veterans’ Day, Superintendent Robert Malay called him and said Fletcher needed to “revise” a flyer that would be handed out to students.
“He wanted me to change it to say “holiday tree lighting” instead,” Fletcher told FOX25. “It’s not a holiday tree, it’s a Christmas tree. If you want a holiday tree, then do it for Valentine’s Day, or Columbus Day, or whatever you want.”
You gotta wonder what Christmas looks like in that town’s schools.
In perhaps one of the only legitimate beefs in the so-called “war on Christmas” it appears the good guys actually won one. Malls across the country have attempted to capitalize on the Santa business by installing what they call “the Santa adventure” and charging parents fees from $35 to $50 just to get their children in to see Santa Claus. In the most high profile of these cases Cherry Hill Mall near Philadelphia famous imposed the charges and then faced a brutal customer backlash that went viral on social media. The mall has since made Santa a free attraction, as he has been in the past.
The backdrop to all the Santa controversy comes courtesy of Dream Works who launched an enhanced Santa attraction described as a first-of-its-kind holiday experience that features Shrek, Santa and interactive storytelling with cutting-edge technology.
Shrek and friends take families on an enchanting journey to the North Pole. Five captivating rooms within the Adventure to Santa experience keep families engaged and entertained, including a cinematic adventure featuring a wrap-around screen and motion-based effects sure to excite guests of all ages. Once families complete the activities in each room, Adventure to Santa culminates in a special moment where children and their families enjoy a private visit with Santa.
Dream Works and malls featuring the service have been providing touring school groups with free access in order to build buzz and goodwill about the attraction. The problem comes when a mall allows Dream Works to control access to Santa — where seeing him requires an online reservation, a process that in turn requires the purchase of a photo package at a cost between $35 and $50.
Will the Dream Works attraction catch hold? Will parents actually pay $35 to give their children what amounts to a commercial experience with Santa Claus?
That remains to be seen.
What appears to be settled is that malls will continue to offer free access to Santa for those parents who can do without “the experience” or the cost.