Christmas Roots and Celebration vs. Secularism
The French court has recently banned a nativity scene in a town hall for the purpose of preserving France’s secular traditions. For those who do not know, the nativity scene typically depicts baby Jesus in his manger surrounded by his mother Mary and Joseph. Other characters commonly depicted are shepherds and sheep, and angels. There are many variations of the scene including characters that either are or are not biblical figures. The nativity scene is huge for the Christian tradition of Christmas, as it shows the basis for the holiday – the birth of Jesus Christ. As Christmas’ origin is from what this scene is presenting (literally Christ’s Mass) it is as typical of a symbol to see around the holiday season as a snowman, or Santa Claus. Hence the backlash that has occurred since the court’s banning of the scene. 86% of Guardian newspapers readers surveyed were in favour of keeping the nativity scenes in public places. The removal was due to a complaint from the secular campaign group Federation Nationale de la Libre Pensee. Arguments againset the decision to ban it question the courts why they don’t just ban all the Christmas and public holidays that go with it? This raises issues of where do we draw a secularist line? Controversy continues as the government is concerned with being seen as discriminatory against Muslims who have been banned from wearing burqas in public. The war between those for and against secularism seem to be at a tense high around the holiday season. I believe the government may be leaning too far to protect the country’s secular traditions. However, my biased Christian upbringing has presented the nativity scene as a basic and traditional Christmas symbol.