Thursday, 20 November 2008

Council bans Christmas

Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without the familiar seasonal reports of local authority killjoys trying to ‘ban’ it. And like the Christmas displays in the shops, which the laws of commerce now require to be in place before the first leaves fall from the trees, the reports of the bans start earlier every year. This year it was the city of Oxford that was first in the media firing line with the Oxford Mail’s ‘Council set to axe Christmas’ headline on 1 November setting the tone for a spot of ‘political correctness gone mad’-style bureaucrat bashing. The Mail even managed to rope in Sabir Hussain Mirza, chairman of the Muslim Council of Oxford, to lead a chorus of non-Christian, pro-Christmas complaint.

‘This is going to be a disaster. I’m angry and very, very disappointed,’ Mirza moaned. ‘Christmas is special and we shouldn’t ignore it. Christian people should be offended and 99 per cent of people will be against this.’

Against what, exactly? A prohibition on plum puddings and carol singing, a la Oliver Cromwell circa 1649?

Hardly. Instead, it seems the charity Oxford Inspires took the outrageous decision to call this year’s city centre festive lights switch-on a ‘Winter Light Festival’, with the idea of incorporating Hannukah, Diwali and maybe a midwinter solstice bonfire or two. There are still going to be Christmas carols and a Christmas tree and people getting outrageously drunk and shagging each other at office parties and all the other things that make up a traditional Christmas, so it’s hard to see where the axe is falling.

Anyway, as Oxford Inspires spokesman Tei Williams commented, ‘The ceremony takes place on 28 November. It's hardly Christmas if it’s November.’

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