Feature

A nation that ignores Christmas; Why Halloween has failed to catch on; France and Chad: When foreign adoptions go terribly wrong

Who needs Dr. Seuss

United Kingdom

A nation that ignores Christmas
Rowan Pelling
Daily Telegraph

Who needs Dr. Seuss’ Grinch?  asked Rowan Pelling in the London Daily Telegraph. Britain’s biggest  progressive  think tank is more than willing to steal Christmas. The Institute for Public Policy Research has issued a report urging the government to downplay Christmas and pay more attention to festivals from other religions. It favors  mealy-mouthed euphemisms,  such as wishing people  happy holidays  or a festive  Winterval  during Christmas season. Such contortions are bizarre. Nearly three-quarters of British citizens identify themselves as Christian. Yet somehow we seem to have decided that  any open admission of Christian belief is so downright embarrassing that it’s easiest just to let the secular mob destroy our traditional jollies.  My son’s preschool sent parents letters announcing that this year they would be celebrating  festivals of light  from different cultures and inviting us to contribute ideas.  My culture,  evidently, is  increasingly sidelined.  So I’ve decided to tell the school that I am a practicing Jedi Knight and that I find it  divisive and discriminatory not to discuss the dark side of the Force.  Perhaps such a threat could spark a parental outcry—and give us back the traditional Nativity pageant.

France

Why Halloween has failed to catch on
Claire Gatinois
Le Monde

The French flirtation with Halloween is over, said Claire Gatinois in Paris’ Le Monde. For a while, back in the late 1990s, it looked as if the Anglo- Saxon holiday would become a Gallic tradition. French parents not only dressed their children in little ghoul outfits and took them trick-or-treating, but many even donned costumes themselves and wore them to bars, just like in New York or London. This year, though, while some kids were still soliciting on the streets, there was nary a grown-up spook to be seen. Are we seeing a backlash against the Americanization of our culture? Not really. Instead, analysts point to the influence of the Catholic Church. Beginning in 1999, French priests became vocal in their criticism of the  devaluation of All-Saints Day,  a holy day just after Halloween. Catholics instead turned back to their own religiously sanctioned dress-up day: Mardi Gras, the carnival day of excess that comes before the self-denial of Lent. Costume retailers say February business has been increasing steadily in the past few years, as French adults go all out to celebrate the carnival.  French consumers have made their choice.  Halloween is just for the kids.

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