The tug of war between the sacred and secular of Christmas knows no boundaries. The City of Sydney, Australia is debating the theme of that city’s holiday celebration in decorations. At issue is whether this year’s proposed theme of Christmas trees is really just a politically correct dodge of that city’s traditionally Christian Christmas and if it truly reflects Sydney’s unique Christmas flavor.
“Evergreen Sydney, City of Christmas trees,” has been chosen as the theme for this year’s festivities, with “forests” of festive pines dotted around the CBD, including a hi-tech whopper at Martin Place. Councillors will be asked to rubber stamp the idea next Monday, with one slamming it and calling for something more unique to Sydney.
However, local shopping center executives fear another more Christian theme will offend their non-Christian shoppers. Australian Retailers Association chief Russell Zimmerman sits on a council retail advisory committee that helped devise the trees theme.
He revealed several shopping center executives had raised private concerns about Christmas decorations causing offense.
“One of them was a shopping center in the Sydney metropolitan area and it was discussed that ‘We’re a multicultural society and we can’t have people having Christmas decorations up, we might offend’,” Mr Zimmerman said.
Another, however, said: “I’m going to say that we are a Christian society and if you go to another society you do as that society does.”
The Council, however, believes they are on the right track.
“Anyone who celebrates Christmas knows the symbolism of the Christmas tree. There is no move to make Christmas more secular in Sydney,” the council spokeswoman Clover Moore said. Santa and Jesus will still feature in the council’s Christmas celebrations. Moore, it should be noted, gained notoriety more than a decade ago for slashing Christmas decorating budgets.
The council has published tracts promoting the idea: “Historically secular and recognised by many cultures, the Christmas tree reaches out across communities with a message of inclusion, generosity and celebration — green, global and connected.”
A council spokesman defended the plans and revealed this year’s Christmas budget has more than doubled from the miserly $879,000 spent last year to a far more festive $1.925 million in 2014.
Reports from Sydney indicate that local Christian activists are mobilizing to fight the “watered-down” Christmas theme, as some are describing it.