Happy Chrismahanukwanzakah!

An international fervor of political correctness, intended to be universally pleasing by stifling attempts at religious expression by public establishments, instead tends to offend religions, ideologies, and those endowed with common sense.

Representing various religions and holidays in a public display is a respectable gesture; however, some instances of political correctness may make some cringe. For instance, the jolly shopping mall Santas of Sydney, Australia were instructed to substitute the iconic “ho, ho, ho” with “ha, ha, ha” to not show offense to women or frighten children, because it was too similar to the U.S. slang term for a prostitute.

“Gimme a break. We are talking about little kids who do not understand that ‘ho, ho, ho’ has any other connotation and nor should they,” said Julie Gale, the manager of a campaign opposing the sexualization of children, “Leave Santa alone.”

Last month, the home-improvement chain Lowe’s apologized for listing their Christmas trees as “family trees” in its holiday catalog. This instance of political correctness evidently was a “plain old error” according to Maureen Rich, the spokeswoman for Lowe’s; the group responsible for the design of the catalog intended to continue the family themed headlines for all pages, including the Christmas tree page, hence “family trees.”

Several events in particular cities’ public establishments have elicited negative feelings from its citizens. A Kirkland, Washington public high school principal cancelled a class field trip to see Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol because it incited religion in a school setting. In 2004, Denver, Colorado’s mayor announced that a church group, Faith Bible Chapel, could not participate in the city’s annual “parade of lights,” where they planned to march and sing Christmas carols, because the parade is about the holidays, not just Christmas. However, following public sentiment to keep Christmas in the parade, the mayor relented.

Political correctness, despite its generally fair intentions, has tended to elicit a poor response from local and international communities; however, the subject also elicits a satirical voice, spawning Chrismukkah and Chrismahanukwanzakah (Virgin Mobile’s 2004-2005 winter commercials’ fictional holiday). Hopefully, as our society gravitates toward tolerance rather than non-representation, we can learn to brush off the ironically controversial political correctness of the winter season while maintaining a wholly secular attitude.

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