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Topic: Culturally neutral holiday symbols  (Read 10965 times)
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« Reply #10 on: September 07, 2005 12:22:56 PM »

i feel no attachment to candy canes, tree lights, candles, holly, berries, boughs, angels.... that stuff all feels christmas to me.

Really? Crud.
I never considered angels to be neutral, I know tree lights is pushing it, and I don't really know the origins of holly. What about mistletoe? This is exactly why I'm asking about this - because things that seem totally benign to me, might really not be.

oh the turmoils of PC religious craft making.  will it ever end? WILL IT EVER END???

Heh, um. No?

I'm looking at this from a business perspective, freelance clients who wanted holiday cards that wouldn't offend any of their clients or vendors. I think it's normal for friends or family to send out messages that are relevant to their own beliefs.

« Reply #11 on: September 07, 2005 12:23:09 PM »

I've run into this dilemma for as long as I can remember... I have Jewish, Methodist, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist, and Islamic friends, and although none of them have ever complained to me about receiving a Christmas card, I've always been acutely aware of cultural/religious differences.

For several years now I've used "holiday-neutral" themes: snowflakes are my personal favorite, although I find holly (winter plant) and reindeer (winter animals) to be mostly neutral as well. I particularly like the snowflake theme because they can be white or silver or sparkly (the sparklier, the better!), and because no two snowflakes are alike in nature. To me, there's no better representation of the beauty of difference (in the winter-time) than the snowflake crystal. My second favorite symbol is the Earth or anything relating to peace.

I've stuck with mostly neutral colors for wrapping and decorating- red, white, silver, gold. They're all traditional colors of celebration in some part of the world, although I'm aware that even red and gold are considered "Christmas-y" by many people, and so I've purchased one roll of blue and silver wrapping paper as well.

However, I've recently begun reusing wrapping paper (I make everyone open their gifts gently), so whatever there is leftover is what I use. I'm boycotting wrapping paper and when I run out of what I currently have, I'm going to use newspaper and magazines. I hate the thought of killing trees for pretty paper that's ripped apart in about 10 seconds or less... I've vowed to never purchase another roll. (We'll see how well that works out if/when I have kids....) Wink
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« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2005 12:28:52 PM »

As far as neutral symbols: I second anyone who said peace, doves, snowflakes.  I don't buy / make cards that mention "holiday" at all.  I go for ones with a quote about winter or peace.  This year's (which have been sitting in a corner with all my snowflake decorations since last year) have a shimmery abstract winter landscape and the saying "How sweet a world at peace can be."  In the past I had ones with a quote from William Blake that I can't put my hands on at the moment.

I also really really love winter cards with vintage-y black and white photos of people enjoying snowfall!  Kids, couples, even pets...  they always make me smile.  And PENGUINS and POLAR BEARS, especially chicks and cubs... 

I have to say, though, that I love receiving holiday cards from people who celebrate that holiday when I know the card is sent in the spirit of love and generosity that is at the root of the holiday, even if I don't share a belief in the religion.   

Winter is nature's way of saying, "Up yours."
~Robert Byrne
« Reply #13 on: September 07, 2005 12:30:43 PM »

But don't send me a card with Santa and Rudolph and all those other reindeer whose names I don't know and call it "Holiday."  THAT, my friends, is a Christmas card.

Doh! I tried to make a card last year with tracks in the snow of a sleigh and hoofprints. It was nixed. Hey! It didn't mean it was Santa and Reindeer, it could have been people out taking a sleigh ride enjoying the snow!

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« Reply #14 on: September 07, 2005 01:32:12 PM »

I don't like being wished a Merry Christmas when I buy my family Chanukah presents.
That would suck! It would make sense for store clerks to be trained especially not to do this. Probably harder to stop at mom-and-pop type places.

DithMer- Thanks for your reply!
I personally think Christmas is waaaaaay too overdone. There's actually a book titled, "Unplugging the Christmas Machine." It helps people relax and refocus their priorities for the holiday. You say you feel that you're left out of something because "Chanukah isn't as big of a holiday." I don't think bigger is necessarily better (though the merchants would very much beg to differ). I think spending time with family and celebrating one's religion (or not) is more important than showering everyone with piles of stuff. We actually have spent the last few years talking people into not exchanging gifts. And everybody loves the idea! Less people to buy for. I know, we sound like communists.

I also really really love winter cards with vintage-y black and white photos of people enjoying snowfall!
I like this idea. Celebration of family--says it all for me. Of course, that's the family that we want to celebrate with--not the ones who weren't invited.


While we have the gift of life, it seems to me that the only tragedy is to allow part of us to die - whether it is our spirit, our creativity, or our glorious uniqueness.           Gilda Radner
« Reply #15 on: September 07, 2005 02:48:58 PM »

I've started making snowmen and snow-flake cards wishing a "Happy Winter Solstice". I live in Canada, and trust me, the lengthening of daylight hours is worth celebrating! I like the dove of peace idea, since that exemplifies the best of Christmas, though I'm not religious, and I don't think that would offend anyone (as the symbol, though religious in origin is common to major monotheistic religions and it's taken simply to mean peace). I've also been trying to make, rather than buy, gifts. If I buy them, I buy from local craftspeople. I wrap them in recycled paper, maps, brown paper which I decorate, whatever.

A friend was gleefully handing out Christmas cards one year and she wished a prof "Merry Christmas". He replied that actually, he was Jewish. To which my friend- truthfully said, "Oh, that's okay, I'm Muslim." Why she was handing out Christmas cards, I don't know. I think she just thought it was fun.  Smiley The Christmas frenzy is out of control. I do know friends who have "banned" the holiday from their lives... but I have too much fun giving gifts to do that.  Grin

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« Reply #16 on: September 07, 2005 03:37:44 PM »

We could just use this... Grin

« Reply #17 on: September 07, 2005 03:38:54 PM »

A friend was gleefully handing out Christmas cards one year and she wished a prof "Merry Christmas". He replied that actually, he was Jewish. To which my friend- truthfully said, "Oh, that's okay, I'm Muslim."

« Reply #18 on: September 07, 2005 03:57:34 PM »

HA! I love that!
I'm a Unitarian Universalist so this hits home a little. My family is a little of everything, Atheist, Catholic, Methodist, Jewish, but I'm the lone Unitarian and Christmas is not of particular importance to me. Some relatives will be offended if I send something, and some offended if I don't. I tend to stick to snowflakes and peace because no one I've met so far can be offended by that.


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« Reply #19 on: September 07, 2005 04:12:24 PM »

Honestly, though I suppose it shouldn't, since I have no point of reference at all, it surprises me that a candle would be symbolic of Christmas rather than more neutral, since candles figure somewhat prominently in the celebration of chanukah.

I am an agnostic raised by one formerly Catholic (Polish Catholic, no less) atheist and one formerly Seventh Day Adventist and Jewish by heritage agnostic.  My families celebrate Christmas, my immediate family (which also consists of agnostic sister and husband, and a child who will eventually choose for herself) celebrates a family holiday on the day of Christmas Eve that really has nothing to do with Christmas at all, and my mother (who's mother's mother was killed in Germany) and we girls celebrate our Jewish heritage with learning and talk.  We have friends who celebrate Chanukah, Christmas and even Solstice at that time of year.

I know we prefer to get cards from people that reflect their faith.  I hate to think that my lack of faith makes someone uncomfortable enough with our relationship that they fear offending me with their faith.  I love my friends and family, and their faiths are part of who they are, and I feel it is more insulting to THEM to to BE insulted by expressions of their faith, if that makes any sense.  In fact I think it would be downright rude and insensitive of me to be offended by an expression of faith from a person whom I value.  I must value all of them, mustn't I, even if I disagree with it?  Maybe I'm very glad I have friends and family who understand this, but I honestly feel that if someone IS insulted by expressions of your faith they aren't really worth sending a card to.
« Last Edit: September 07, 2005 04:21:13 PM by Lothruin » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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