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Xmas lights ban?

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2005-11-02

Christmas lights or Winter lights?

Christmas lights or winter lights?

It is complete nonsense not to mention Christmas lights in case you may offend other religious groups.  I have never encountered anyone Jewish, Hindu, Muslim or other faith that is offended if the words Christmas Lights are used to describe lights that are switched on during the festive season.

According to various reports, Lambeth Council in south west London is looking to reflect the diverse range of religious festivals taking place around the festive season and are looking to use the words Winter Lights and Celebrity Lights instead of Christmas Lights.

Lambeth Councillor Bernard Gentry has gone into overdrive by saying: "... We should not be in a position where we are too scared to acknowledge the Christian festival of Christmas in the same way as we mark the Hindu festival of Diwali, the Muslim month of Ramadan and the Jewish Yom Kippur."

Well, a quick search through the Lambeth council website for Yom Kippur pulls up no results when using its search facility, the same is true for running a search on Jewish. Likewise, Muslim and Ramadan show no results but Hindu does give two results while Diwali has nothing.

When it comes to acknowledging other festivals, Lambeth doesn't seem to know they exist, at least that is what the results on its own website seem to indicate. It looks like it has never done anything for these festivals before, hence lack of any results.

So in terms of marking all the above, I don't think Gentry has actually bothered to see for himself what his council is actually doing or not doing.

Yes, they are wrong to knock the words Christmas Lights off the headline, but if below the headline it is about reflecting all religions at this time of year, then what is wrong with that?

We should reflect the festive season of all but at the same time, we should not be afraid that by mentioning a festival it will offend others.

If the Jewish community organises a communal Chanukah event and invites members from other communities to join them, isn't that a good thing? 

It's only through talking about each other's festivals that we get to know what others celebrate and believe and whether that is Christmas, Chanukah, Ramadan or Diwali, we should not try to hide from naming them and explaining what they are about.