Originally Posted by amma_mama
The "big whoop" is that we have separation of Church and State. Our public schools should NOT be incorporating religious aspects into the school day. Santa, "secular" or not, is associated with Christmas and I have a hard time swallowing the idea that Christmas is a secular holiday - it is a celebration of the birth of baby Jesus Christ!
You know, I am not Christian, but I take issue with this approach to separation of church and state. I went to a public school for a few years in the 1970's, and religion was approached as a taboo subject. We did still have a "Christmas" break and and "Easter" break, but whenever a religious subject (especially a Christian subject) we were told that it wasn't allowed in school and the discussion was ended. ETA the rest of the thought, which I apparently deleted: I don't feel that sort of approach served me or any of the other students well. Instead of teaching us how to speak about religion and religious topics in an informed, respectful way, it taught us that those subjects are off-limits because they might offend. That sort of attitude leads to a lot of problems when we all have to live together.
As long as the school is not actively promoting one religion (i.e., telling the children what to believe, rather than just exposing them to others beliefs), I think these sorts of celebrations are not only fun, but also educational and completely in keeping with the separation of church and state. In my son's class, they've spent a day each learning about Hanukkah and Kwanza. They've made Christmas trees as an art project, and are having a holiday party with some traditional Christmas symbols. I see it all as enriching his understanding of the cultures and traditions around him. I'd like to see more. Ramadan and the Eid, Hmong New Year, Diwali - I know time is an issue, but the more the better!
And let's not forget that most of the symbols we associate with Christmas (the Christmas tree, wreaths, mistletoe and holly, and even a mythical bearded man) were all used for pre-Christian celebrations of the solstice. They aren't Christian traditions as much as they are traditions adopted and popularized by Christians.