Santa visiting class in public school - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

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Old 12-17-2009, 06:57 PM
 
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Exactly! How can we respect our differences if we know nothing about them.
But whose job is it to teach the differences? It's the parents', not the schools'. So many other things come under fire at public schools. Even the way they teach math and reading gets the hammer, let alone something like world religion. Does anyone think that public school could teach a religion class (regardless if it violates church and state) effectively and to satisfy everyone? Particularly at this age. The age that Santa is something important is also the age of innocence, when children have not yet been truly indoctrinated. When religion is really a SUBJECT to be taught, then kids are WAAAAAAAAAY beyond Santa. I think this issue of Santa at school has nothing at all to do with teaching religion as a subject to learn about our differences. I'm one who believes that if you put your child in a rich, diverse environment, these "differences" will be addressed... sometimes easily and sometimes with difficulty... by the children themselves.
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Old 12-17-2009, 07:04 PM
 
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There's a huge difference between objecting to Saint Nickolas coming to school and never ever mentioning or learning about anyones beliefs.

For starters, I'm pretty sure that the Santa is going to be presented to the children as the genuine Santa. The teacher is probably not going to stand up in front of the class and say:

"This is a guy wearing a red suit. Children from mainstream American Christian religions believe he is a Saint that listens to there wishes and brings them toys. People from other religions think he's Larry the principals husband who glued on a fake beard."

Can you imagine how many people would be upset by that.

Reading a story like T'was the Night Before Christmas is on a completely different level. Baking gingerbread men and talking about how special foods became associated with Christmas b/c spices such as ginger were very expensive in the past and couldn't be used all year. I certainly don't object to the occasional mention of menorahs or playing with dreidels, but if the school having a seder at passover and inviting some one to dress up as Elias and come to drink the extra cup of wine left out.
See, that is where you are wrong- I don't know ANYONE who views him as a SAINT. It's SANTA CLAUS- the big guy from up in the NORTH POLE who brings presents. No one is inviting Saint Nikolas, the saint who is the precursor to modern Santa Claus, who actually was created by the New York Post and Coca Cola company back in the late 20s, early 30s.
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Old 12-17-2009, 07:09 PM
 
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I don't know ANYONE who views him as a SAINT.
I view him as a Saint, and I actually resent a lot of misinformation that is given to children in this regard.

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Old 12-17-2009, 07:21 PM
 
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Reading a story like T'was the Night Before Christmas is on a completely different level.
How so? Isn't a person coming in dressed like Santa just a personification of the character in the poem?
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Old 12-17-2009, 07:32 PM
 
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How so? Isn't a person coming in dressed like Santa just a personification of the character in the poem?
If hes was being presented as an actor dressed up as a character from a poem, then sure no problem. I remember some actor coming to our school as Ben Franklin, it was fun.

However, if he was presented that way I'm pretty sure most of the parents would be very angry that the school had ruined the big secret. They would be upset that their kids no longer believed the guy at the mall was Santa. Etc.

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Old 12-17-2009, 07:33 PM
 
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Oh for crying out loud. It's like what, 10 minutes out of a day? That's going to effect them bonding with classmates for the rest of the year? I really don't buy it. It'll suck then it'll be over, most kids have short attention spans and they'll all to be onto the next thing, like how some kid brought a My Little Pony for show and tell or whatever.

So basically, because some kids' parents don't want them to participate, no kids get to have a fun activity. That's so mean spirited. And hardly conducive to positive community relations.

I think, in life, having travelled a lot, that sometimes you need to suck it up for the greater community spirit. I give tolerance to you, you give tolerance to me. This endless pontificating on *my* rights and rigid thinking and the individual above all doesn't help people get along imo

And ask me how I feel about the JW family in DD's class who have taken it upon themselves to express their non-belief by telling their child to tell the kids the tooth fairy and santa aren't real. So fine, they're not real. Couldn't they keep their traps shut? I certainly wouldn't tell my DD that their beliefs are bullshit, but somehow it's okay to do it in the reverse.

Thank you thank you thank you thank you!!!!!!! yes yes and yes!!!!

And this is coming from a no-Santa household. We celebrate the Feast of the Nativity, (Also the Feast of St. Nicholas which is NOT on Christmas Day....we put little presents in shoes so yeah...no Santa mom here.

 

 

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Old 12-17-2009, 07:39 PM
 
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If hes was being presented as an actor dressed up as a character from a poem, then sure no problem. I remember some actor coming to our school as Ben Franklin, it was fun.

However, if he was presented that way I'm pretty sure most of the parents would be very angry that the school had ruined the big secret. They would be upset that their kids no longer believed the guy at the mall was Santa. Etc.
I thought the issue was whether Santa was associated with a Christian holiday and whether that would reinforce Christian ideals in a public school, not whether or not Santa is "real" - I don't see a disctinction btwn reading books about Santa and a having a person coming in dressed like Santa - the issue being whether reinforcing the concept of "Santa" violates the 1st Amendment.
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Old 12-17-2009, 08:20 PM
 
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I thought the issue was whether Santa was associated with a Christian holiday and whether that would reinforce Christian ideals in a public school, not whether or not Santa is "real" - I don't see a disctinction btwn reading books about Santa and a having a person coming in dressed like Santa - the issue being whether reinforcing the concept of "Santa" violates the 1st Amendment.
Santa being a religious figure is the issue.

When the school decides to present a "secular" Santa to the students, they have to choose how to present him:

Present him as the real Santa who lives at the north pole and gives toys to good little boys and girls. Alienating those who aren't mainstream/cultural Christians (that would be all non-Christains such as Jews, Buddhists as well as many more orthodox or divergent Christian sects.)

Present him as some guy dressed up as Saint Nicholas. Upsetting the children who really believe in Santa.

It's a no win situation. By having Santa come and visit the school, they aren't simply allowing the story to exist. They are endorsing the eistance and belief in a flesh and blood real Santa Claus.

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Old 12-17-2009, 08:37 PM
 
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Santa being a religious figure is the issue.

When the school decides to present a "secular" Santa to the students, they have to choose how to present him:

Present him as the real Santa who lives at the north pole and gives toys to good little boys and girls. Alienating those who aren't mainstream/cultural Christians (that would be all non-Christains such as Jews, Buddhists as well as many more orthodox or divergent Christian sects.)

Present him as some guy dressed up as Saint Nicholas. Upsetting the children who really believe in Santa.

It's a no win situation. By having Santa come and visit the school, they aren't simply allowing the story to exist. They are endorsing the eistance and belief in a flesh and blood real Santa Claus.
I guess I see the issue as whether or not Santa = a Christian figure that would reinforce Christianity at the exclusion of other religious or non-religious beliefs. I don't really see the issue as being whether or not the children see the Santa as the "real" Santa (and therefore, Santa = "real") or a man dressed up in a Santa suit - the arguably controversial ssue is that he's there to begin with. For example, if the school had kids dressed up like Jesus, Mary, and Joseph at a manger scene, the issue wouldn't be whether the other kids knew that these were just their fellow classmates dressed up and not the real Jesus, Mary & Joseph - the issue would be that the public school allowed such a display in the first place while excluding expressions of other religions. The issue is whether the public decides Santa is a display of Christianity in the same manner that Jesus, Mary & Joseph at the manger are.... I tend to think it's not on the same level, as Santa Claus has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus -- what Christians consider Christmas to be celebrating. OTOH, it's clear that Santa originated from St. Nick; I think society has done a pretty thorough job of secularizing and commercializing him, though.
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Old 12-17-2009, 08:43 PM
 
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what about halloween? I'd guess similar stats are associated with Halloween. Should halloween be kept out of schools, to not offend people? I know in our school there are some children who do not celebrate halloween, they are offered alternative activities during any halloween celebrations.
Our school doesn't do Halloween because of the fundy Christians. It annoys the heck out of me. I really think the kids should get to have fun and classroom parties and all that.

I think adults need to get over their nonsense and just let the kids have fun.

I'm buddhists/pagan and my DH is an atheist. We celebrate Christmas and we *did* Santa when the kids were little. So the idea that Santa is some how a religious symbol is laughable to me.

Totally laughable.

I think that parents of any faith who keep their kids from participating in fun activities due to their religion are misguided. My parents are fundies who kept me from all sorts of things -- like listening to rock music to reading Catcher in the Rye. It REALLY didn't work.


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You can have Santa, as part of a Christmas unit...but Christmas would be one of the many religous/cultural traditions explored throughout the year. You may also hand out dreidles, have a solctice party etc. The whole thing would be done as "world religions" - not theology. As an observer of the religion - not a participant, so to speak.
Agreed! I love to see MORE parties! More crafts! Think of the food!

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I wouldn't mind. I'd also like it if other mythical characters came to the school to visit for other family type holidays, not just the ones we're used to celebrating in this country.
I read this and for some reason pictured a unicorn visiting the school.

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Alienating those who aren't mainstream/cultural Christians (that would be all non-Christains such as Jews, Buddhists as well as many more orthodox or divergent Christian sects.)
Since I am one of those people and I still like Santa, I don't buy into your point.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 12-17-2009, 08:50 PM
 
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Since I am one of those people and I still like Santa, I don't buy into your point.
But, do you speak for all non-mainstream/cultural Christians?

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Old 12-17-2009, 09:03 PM
 
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From a more practical perspective - my DD is a Jewish Kindergardener... and just starting to realize how different she is. SO FAR.. we've explained that Santa doesn't come to our house but we are ready fo the follow up questions and having to admit that Santa is often Mom or Dad....

So far, we've avoided it. But I do not my JEWISH daughter to be the one that wrecks the illusion for her non-Jewish friends... "Look it's Santa" "Nah, he's not real"

I know SOMEONE will do this soon.. but I really don't want it to be the Jewish kid... feeding anti-semetism...

(and no, the whole "he's real because he's inside of all of us" stuff doesn't work for me)

So, I'm GLAD there is no man in a red suit at our school.
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Old 12-17-2009, 09:07 PM
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Did anyone mention the reason for the separation of church and state?

I find it's a great idea by the founding fathers that's been turned into a excuse for bigotry and intolerance.

In the UK, the reigning Monarch is the Head of State. Curretnly the Queen who is as much a figure head these days but still has, if she wanted to wield it, the power of veto over laws and much else. She is head of government. She is ALSO the head of the Church of England as all monarchs are.

In the past catholics or protestants have been persecuted depending on the religion of the prevailing head of state...that's why the pilgrims fled.

Not allowing the government of the day to dictate the religion of the people is what the separation of church and state is about.

It's not about stopping people from putting Christmas trees on federal property or stopping Santa visiting school children.

"Custom will reconcile people to any atrocity."
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Old 12-17-2009, 09:35 PM
 
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It's not about stopping people from putting Christmas trees on federal property or stopping Santa visiting school children.
Good post, Bea. The last sentence reminded me that both of my kids' schools have large Christmas trees with lights on them in the entrance. They happen to have mittens and hats as ornaments as they are collecting them for needy families - but I wonder if having a Christmas tree bothers non-Christmas celebrating families. Surely that would irritate them more than Santa coming once since the trees are up for several weeks in a row...

and btw, my DS had a wonderful time today at "Polar Express Day" and I was right, Santa gave him a special gold bell.

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Old 12-17-2009, 09:45 PM
 
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But whose job is it to teach the differences? It's the parents', not the schools'. So many other things come under fire at public schools. Even the way they teach math and reading gets the hammer, let alone something like world religion. Does anyone think that public school could teach a religion class (regardless if it violates church and state) effectively and to satisfy everyone? Particularly at this age. The age that Santa is something important is also the age of innocence, when children have not yet been truly indoctrinated. When religion is really a SUBJECT to be taught, then kids are WAAAAAAAAAY beyond Santa. I think this issue of Santa at school has nothing at all to do with teaching religion as a subject to learn about our differences. I'm one who believes that if you put your child in a rich, diverse environment, these "differences" will be addressed... sometimes easily and sometimes with difficulty... by the children themselves.
I don't have much faith in the public school system, so I can't objectively answer this question.

But, teaching about differences in cultural holidays does not have to include in depth studies about religion. The reason for the various holidays and the tradtions that are observed does not have to invlove theological discussions on any level, be it kindergarten or 12th grade. Sharing various religious beliefs is not the same is teaching religion. Saying that Christians celebrate the birth of Christ, Jews commemorate the rededcation of the Holy Temple, Muslims fast to shun excesses and to teach patience and spirituality is a fact.

Schools with diverse populations are wonderful environments to address the differences that are observed by students on a daily basis.

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Old 12-17-2009, 09:56 PM
 
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Good post, Bea. The last sentence reminded me that both of my kids' schools have large Christmas trees with lights on them in the entrance. They happen to have mittens and hats as ornaments as they are collecting them for needy families - but I wonder if having a Christmas tree bothers non-Christmas celebrating families. Surely that would irritate them more than Santa coming once since the trees are up for several weeks in a row...
While I know there are people who object to Christmas trees on public property, to me Santa is a whole lot worse, b/c children are encouraged to believe in Santa. A Christmas tree just is meant to sit there and look pretty. It's an attractive hunk of wood, no faith involved.

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Old 12-17-2009, 10:07 PM
 
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At my DD's elementary school the teachers send a note home, explaining that they will be using various holiday symbols during the month of December including ones from Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. They also invite any parents to come in and play games or bring in foods that are part of their family's celebrations. So, for example, a Jewish parent could come in and bring the Menorah, play with a dreidel and read a book about Hanukkah. Or a Christian family could bring in Christmas cookies, read a book about Christmas and bring in a Nativity scene. (I am not familiar with Kwanzaa but I'd assume that a parent could share customs and traditions from that celebration in a similar way.) The goal is to have all the children's celebrations for the season represented and share customs with each other.

Quite frankly I really like the way they do it at our school.

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Old 12-17-2009, 10:23 PM
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I'm utterly bamboozled as to how the fun and imagination of childhood is turned into a politically correct evil.

Maybe it's because I'm from a culture and era of fairies, pixies and sprites. Santa. The tooth fairy.

The magic of childhood.

When my Mum was a little girl in (very) rural Scotland in the 40's, she'd go for a walk along a coastal path where there was a 'wishing well' (a little old belfast sink someone had put under the run off from a spring to stop the path being erroded...it's still there) and she'd often write a little note to the fairies. My Grandfather, lame leg and all, would take the time after a busy day at work to walk the couple of miles to leave a reply/gift/whatever and nurture her belief in the magic folk.

I suppose he should have sat her down and lectured her on paganism, mythology, stopped her going or squished her fun in some way because I'm sure (as I know) the gradual realisation that your parents have been shining you on is devastating (NOT!!!).

I only wish I could still have that innocence and belief now. It was wonderful.

I still have the picture my own father drew in tiny footprints of a fairy when I sent a note with my tooth asking for a self portrait

They are wonderful memories to cherish.

Should I teach my child that those of other beliefs or magical imaginings and wonder are wrong or allow them to work it out for themselves iin time and /or come to me with questions?

I'd certainly never stop my child participating in religiously based cultural celebrations and I'm happily athiest. I can't even imagine it. The discussion, maybe embracing but ultimately CHOICE of others ideas is what I want for my child.

"Custom will reconcile people to any atrocity."
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Old 12-17-2009, 10:25 PM
 
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Santa is not religious, it is secular, and over 95% of Americans 'believe' in Santa.
No, 95% of the population is not Christian. I've heard quotes of 30 to 50% of the U.S. population being agnostic or non-believers. That's not counting the other religions in the country.

If Santa doesn't visit, these kids will still celebrate with their families. I'd prefer no religious celebrations in school. That stuff is for home-life. I don't trust others to teach religion to my children. I teach them or have our sunday school teacher teach them, once I've checked out the curriculum.

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Old 12-17-2009, 10:29 PM
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Santa is not religious, it is secular, and over 95% of Americans 'believe' in Santa.
Approximately 85% of Americans believe in God, but 95% believe in Santa. Really?

If Santa is secular, then maybe he should change his standard "Ho, ho, ho....MERRY CHRISTMAS!" to some other phrase.
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Old 12-17-2009, 11:14 PM
 
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Approximately 85% of Americans believe in God, but 95% believe in Santa. Really?

If Santa is secular, then maybe he should change his standard "Ho, ho, ho....MERRY CHRISTMAS!" to some other phrase.
In that vein shouldn't Easter be called something else? Easter is hardly a Christian word, yet it celebrates a Christian holiday.

The name is irrelevant. For many, many people, Christmas and Santa (not St Nick) are secular.
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Old 12-17-2009, 11:19 PM
 
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No, 95% of the population is not Christian. I've heard quotes of 30 to 50% of the U.S. population being agnostic or non-believers. That's not counting the other religions in the country.


She didn't say 95% of the population is Christian. She said that polls have shown 95% celebrate Santa in some form or another. It seems to me that that number may be high, but it includes some, like me who are agnostic, but celebrate Christmas, and some like my husband, who was raised Muslim but celebrates, and some like my friends who are Buddhist and Hindu but celebrate.
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Old 12-17-2009, 11:28 PM
 
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Santa is not religious, it is secular, and over 95% of Americans 'believe' in Santa.
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She didn't say 95% of the population is Christian. She said that polls have shown 95% celebrate Santa in some form or another. It seems to me that that number may be high, but it includes some, like me who are agnostic, but celebrate Christmas, and some like my husband, who was raised Muslim but celebrates, and some like my friends who are Buddhist and Hindu but celebrate.

 
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Old 12-17-2009, 11:29 PM
 
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Interesting debate. Here is what I think:

If you went to another country, and people were celebrating a particular holiday (whether or not connected to religious roots), and you saw the kids laughing and enjoying themselves, would you see it as a horrible thing? Would you ask for statistics on how many families actually celebrate that holiday? Or would you appreciate the tradition you got to witness?

Half of my family is Jewish (and we have immediate family in Israel). Half of my family is Christian. My dad claims to be an atheist. DSD claims to be agnostic at the moment (I think she is still figuring things out). Yet, no one would think to oppose a celebration that is prevalent in a given culture. The reality is, prevalent majority of Americans "do Santa" in one form or another, be it religious or just the stockings and reindeer kind of way.

I don't tell my sister to put away her menorah, and she complements my Christmas tree.

What I dislike about the whole thing is how taboo the whole subject is. Ya know what? If it wasn't for Christmas, there probably wouldn't the "the winter break". If it wasn't for Christmas, we probably wouldn't be saying to each other "Happy Holidays".

Santa is a great mythical figure and very few kids realize the religious roots behind him. Should we ban Superman? What if I don't like superman? Should we not discuss Greek Mythology at our school? That was based on very much religious grounds.

I teach, and I stay away from Santa, Christmas trees, and the whole bit, but I wish I didn't have to.

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Old 12-17-2009, 11:36 PM
 
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But, teaching about differences in cultural holidays does not have to include in depth studies about religion. The reason for the various holidays and the tradtions that are observed does not have to invlove theological discussions on any level, be it kindergarten or 12th grade. Sharing various religious beliefs is not the same is teaching religion. Saying that Christians celebrate the birth of Christ, Jews commemorate the rededcation of the Holy Temple, Muslims fast to shun excesses and to teach patience and spirituality is a fact.
: - teaching the various ways that different religions and cultures celebrate special occasions is not the same as diving into their sacred texts and trying to analyze them, or trying to convince a child that one or the other is "right". "Some people believe this, others believe this...." done in an age appropriate way doesn't have to be heavy and deep for little kids, and doesn't mean that people are trying to convert children or do anything other than show them the diversity of humanity.

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Old 12-17-2009, 11:51 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Oriole View Post
Interesting debate. Here is what I think:

If you went to another country, and people were celebrating a particular holiday (whether or not connected to religious roots), and you saw the kids laughing and enjoying themselves, would you see it as a horrible thing? Would you ask for statistics on how many families actually celebrate that holiday? Or would you appreciate the tradition you got to witness?

Half of my family is Jewish (and we have immediate family in Israel). Half of my family is Christian. My dad claims to be an atheist. DSD claims to be agnostic at the moment (I think she is still figuring things out). Yet, no one would think to oppose a celebration that is prevalent in a given culture. The reality is, prevalent majority of Americans "do Santa" in one form or another, be it religious or just the stockings and reindeer kind of way.

I don't tell my sister to put away her menorah, and she complements my Christmas tree.

What I dislike about the whole thing is how taboo the whole subject is. Ya know what? If it wasn't for Christmas, there probably wouldn't the "the winter break". If it wasn't for Christmas, we probably wouldn't be saying to each other "Happy Holidays".

Santa is a great mythical figure and very few kids realize the religious roots behind him. Should we ban Superman? What if I don't like superman? Should we not discuss Greek Mythology at our school? That was based on very much religious grounds.

I teach, and I stay away from Santa, Christmas trees, and the whole bit, but I wish I didn't have to.
i loved this post.

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Originally Posted by Bea View Post
I'm utterly bamboozled as to how the fun and imagination of childhood is turned into a politically correct evil.

Maybe it's because I'm from a culture and era of fairies, pixies and sprites. Santa. The tooth fairy.

The magic of childhood.
agreed. my kids celebrate santa (he only brings one small gift,but the magic of it is wonderful), the tooth fairy gives them a dollar for every tooth they lose, and they believe fireflies are actually pixies spreading pixie dust. we also search for tree trolls while driving & when the wind is strong we see them moving around. my kids love to believe. so do i.

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Old 12-18-2009, 12:21 AM
 
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One of the teachers at my son's daycare introduced him to Santa his first year there. I was a little shocked, since we hadn't decided whether we were doing Santa or not.

My husband is Catholic. The teacher who told my son about Santa is Muslim, and wears the hijab. Still haven't sorted all that out yet.

Anyways, they do have Santa come to the holiday concert, which is outside of school hours but a big school event. I'm still not sure I'm completely thrilled by the whole thing, but it works out fine as far as the kids are concerned. Last year I watched a child with a Sikh topknot grill Santa on Rudolph's eating habits.

It is only as big a deal as the parents make it.

~ Mum to Emily, March 12-16 2004, Noah, born Aug 2005, Liam, born January 2011, and wife to Carl since 1994. ~
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Old 12-18-2009, 12:24 AM
 
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It doesn't phase me at all. Santa came to my son's preschool, they made dreidels and his Hannukah star is on the top of one of our Christmas trees (he insisted!). They lit the kinara for Kwanzaa and read books about the seven principles. They made a pinata and learned about Christmas in Mexico. Last month they learned an Indian dance and made clay pots when learning about Diwali. Santa was about 10 minutes out of a month of celebrations and learning about different cultures. I don't see why he should get any less attention than anything else. Just for reference, every child in the school celebrates Christmas in some way and nobody objects to Santa as a character of the holiday (this came up at a parent meeting earlier in the year). I guess I don't get what the big deal is really.

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Old 12-18-2009, 12:45 AM
 
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If Santa were part of religion, he'd hang out at churches rather than the mall.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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Old 12-18-2009, 01:07 AM
 
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If Santa were part of religion, he'd hang out at churches rather than the mall.
I love this!

I honestly don't see why everything has to be so political today. Just let the kids be kids and have fun with the holiday. I think that some people just love to argue or "make a point" about something that really isn't that big of a deal just to have something to talk about. Get over it or keep your kids home. It's really that simple. If I were concerned about the days that they talk about Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc. I would rather keep my child home than ruin things for everyone else. I don't think a 10 min. Santa visit is going to permanently scar any child any more than talking about Greek Gods, etc. would. This reminds me of the man who has made such a big deal about the pledge of allegiance just because he doesn't want his kid saying "God" in school. The child was not in his custody and was actually a Christian who was perfectly fine with saying the word "God." Her dad was using her and her situation as a student in a public school to make a point for himself and get his message across.

If the kids are happy and enjoying Santa, is it really worth getting all worked up about?
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