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Merry secular Christmas!

The time-honoured festival of Christmas is Europe’s most popular holiday. A strange provision in a European Commission guideline seems to want to erase it…

“Wish “Merry Christmas”: Use “Happy Holidays” instead, a more open and inclusive greeting for people who do not celebrate Christmas”. This incongruous recommendation was included in a guide commissioned by Helena Dalli, European Commissioner for Equality. In the face of widespread astonishment and even outrage, it was stated that this was an internal document and that an updated version was under consideration. A strange state of mind for an institution that is supposed to exemplify European values and culture. What does the erasure of an age-old popular festival reveal? According to the Italian media outlet Il Giornale , which broke the story, the guide also recommended avoiding the use of the names Mary and John. Similar provisions appear in an Erasmus manual on inclusive communication (with the recommendation to avoid “Merry Christmas” on page 12). Has the moral panic in the US affected the European institutions? We cannot recommend enough that they take inspiration from the remarkable work of UNESCO on intercultural dialogue, which spotlights the promotion of the diversity of cultures and their encounter within a common framework. Pope Francis also declared his outrage at these guidelines, and denounced “a dictatorial act”. Apart from the fact that Commissioner Helena Dalli fortunately does not have the means to turn her recommendations into decrees, the Pope seems to forget that Christian Christmas is what freethinkers have called a “stolen holiday”.

The history of the winter solstice as seen by French secularists in the “Laïcité” edition of the Ligue de l’enseignement (contains a link to a book in English on this topic).