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Topic: Culturally neutral holiday symbols  (Read 11479 times)
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« Reply #20 on: September 07, 2005 04:22:22 PM »

When I said candle, I meant more the traditional christmas candle image - like this:

I definitely don't disagree with what you said, Lothurin. I too think we should get cards from people reflecting their particular faith.  I'm just bothered by the attempt to BECOME p.c. turning into lumping all the holidays together, yet maintaining the Christmas imagery.  I value each of my friends, and deeply respect whatever religion (or lack thereof) they choose to celebrate.  I just feel uncomfortable when my religion, which IS important to me, is lumped under something that I can't relate to.  I want my friends to celebrate however they choose - but when they attempt to include me in a way that actually makes me feel more secluded.... I don't know.  Just trying to express how I feel without saying that people shouldn't be allowed to send Christmas cards. That's all.
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« Reply #21 on: September 07, 2005 04:30:28 PM »

I totally understand, Dithmer, and think that we're actually coming from the same place.  Rather than trying to homogenize the holidays, they should be celebrated in their individuality.  I would certainly rather be wished a Happy Chanukah by my Jewish friends than receive some ambiguous snowflake card just because they know I'm not Jewish.  Not that I mind snowflake cards.  I send them myself, because I have no symbols of my faith, because I HAVE no faith, so it's snowflakes for me.  Plus I think they're preeetty.  And to be honest, I don't tend to use Christmas stamps during the holidays.  I usually pick antique cars or something.  Cheesy

And now I get the candle thing, although I have to laugh at myself about that.  I was thinking "Candles would be OK" and had this rather artsy black and white photo of just a plain, narrow taper candle, about the top inch or two and the flame with a blurred background.  So really, just the candle.  I hadn't decorated it with anything, or put it in a holder in my mind.  And I thought "This image is symbolic to so many people, how could it be offensive?" without even considering the way in which candles are usually portrayed at the holidays.

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« Reply #22 on: September 09, 2005 10:28:09 AM »

When I said candle, I meant more the traditional christmas candle image - like this:

That is funny to me, I'm not a christian, but my entire family is (Congregational, very strict Lutheran, or Catholic.) I have friends of all faiths. My children are being raised everything sort of.... discussion for a different time.

We celebrate winter solstice in my house.
We celebrate Christmas at many of our families' houses.
We celebrate other winter holidays at friends' houses. I honestly feel a candle is less Christian than other religions. Christianity has taken or assimilated many other religion's objects or symbols into their own. There is nothing wrong with this, I just get upset that a candle is considered Christian only. The picture you posted made me think of a pagan image. It combines fire and nature. This time of year (northern hemisphere,) it gets darker, what do you need when it gets darker? Light! Thus a candle (and holly, misteltoe, ribbons, are all seasonal and regional, not Christian)

I don't send Christmas cards. I send Holiday cards, because my family doesn't celebrate only one holiday. It says something like "Brightest Blessings to you this holiday season" (that was last years) or similar in other years. I get cards from many different friends, and I do on occasion roll my eyes when I get a bright and glittery virgin Mary with biblical quotes and such, but that is more because my Great Grandmother thinks she can convert me by sending me the right card. However, I get appreciate the sentiment from all the cards regardless of faith. And if something is written inside that is personal to me, it doesn't matter what the picture on the outside is.

Just my 2 cents. No offense meant, if any was taken. Just my take on the whole subject.

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« Reply #23 on: September 16, 2005 09:00:54 AM »

i know what you mean as a jew there is not attachment tho that stuff... i love christmas time but ht holly and berries and waht not just are meaningless.. i would go for like snowflakes, or snow angles, snowpeople or something along that line.
speaking as a jew (oh, it's so hard to be a jew at christmas) i definitely pay attention to that stuff. there's a lot that isn't particularly neutral around the holidays.  i feel no attachment to candy canes, tree lights, candles, holly, berries, boughs, angels.... that stuff all feels christmas to me.  i've seen cards that make me giggle around the holidays, that combine holidays - like a jewish santa, or matzah ball berries on a wreath (actually, i think i just came up with that one Smiley)  i definitely am sensitive to receiving cards with "christmas-y" stuff on them - i know other jews who are too.

though... on the other hand... the way i look at it is i give the card of my holiday.  i give all my friends chanukah cards, even though very few of them are jewish.  so i expect to get christmas cards. i just don't like christmas cards that try and play it off as "holiday" cards when they have blatantly christmas-y stuff on them. 

oh the turmoils of PC religious craft making.  will it ever end? WILL IT EVER END???
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« Reply #24 on: September 16, 2005 07:29:27 PM »

So, I've been thinking a lot about this thread. I had a neat experience that I want to share. I celebrated Christmas one year in a largely non-Christian country--Japan. (Christians number just two percent of the population in Japan.) The country's major religions are Shintoism (roughly-god is in nature) and Buddhism. When I was there ten years ago, Christmas was becoming more popular, and was most often celebrated by younger people. One thing Japanese did differently was eat decorated Christmas cake on Christmas day. My husband and I bought one at the local convenience store. It had a couple of strawberries on top of the icing and "Merry Christmas" in English. (Their convenience stores really are convenient.)

On Christmas eve I watched a Japanese movie about a woman and her lover set around the Christmas holiday. (It was in Japanese, so I didn't understand it.) It seemed to play up the idea of Christmas as a romantic holiday, like Valentine's Day. There was a scene with snowfall and the woman looking/waiting for her love.

In Japan there even were Christmas cards for sale at the big stores, many in English.

At the English school where I worked they put up their artificial tree. In a misguided move at cultural sharing the teachers of our school school read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" to the kids. I'm surprised they didn't fall asleep. It was too long and had too many big words for our English learners.

For more information:
Instead of the traditional Christmas turkey or ham, the Japanese prefer a bucket of KFC chicken, though no one seems to know exactly how this custom came about.
And among the best-selling Christmas items here are condoms--yes, condoms. For the Japanese, Christmas is not the time for a quiet family get-together; it's the time for a little romance. They go to the nice restaurant, have a special dinner and spend a romantic night. So if you don't have a partner, it's kind of miserable night.


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« Reply #25 on: September 17, 2005 09:57:42 AM »

Several of my favorite "neutral" winter card themes have already been mentioned (peace, snowflakes)...

I also like cards that show winter scenes/sports, such as snowshoeing, skiing, mittens, sledding, ice skating, etc. Ooh- and photos of moonlit snowy nights!
« Reply #26 on: September 21, 2005 08:37:17 PM »

I thought this was interesting so I did some internet searching and found this website that addressed your issue of being culturally aware in the business world.  Here's a quote from www.designcraftters.com  I think their idea of incorporating a calendar or "2006" is very clever.

In an effort to value and respect the religious and cultural differences of both employees and clients, many businesses have recently chosen holiday cards which feature more inclusive and culturally neutral images, such as winter scenes, snowflakes, or even tropical holiday cards. Images and verses have focused on such themes such as human unity, the universal desire for peace and love, or the value of relationships. Some businesses have resolved this issue by opting for photo cards featuring their employees. Others have elected to send generic calendar cards - hoping that the calendars and company information will get posted on office walls for the whole year.

Here are some of their more pc cards:

« Reply #27 on: September 27, 2005 02:12:34 AM »

Last year, my former employers used a Scandinavian "nisse" and the greeting "Happy Holidays" on the card they sent out(1). The company is based in Norway, which is predominantly Christian (on paper anyway ...), but about 15% of the employees belong to Asian religions, like Hinduism, Shintoism, etc., and there are many atheists among the European employees, among the Scandinavians in particular. Sending out something overtly Christian would have been entirely wrong.

The "nisse" (imagine a cross between an elf and a gnome, with a red cap) is often used in Christmas imagery, that's true, but he is of pagan origins, and there are still ppl. who set out food for him on Christmas Eve -- an offering, if you like:) He's not very Christian, but very Scandinavian. Another religiously neutral, but very Scandinavian image, is that of a sheaf of grain with little birds in it. Another custom that stems from what used to be an offering ...Smiley

As for what you should do for your Christmas cards ... I would draw up a list, noting who would be likely to be offended by what, and send neutral cards or religious-specific cards depending on the recipients' offence-taking level. (Hm, strange wording, but I'm sure you get my point:)

Snowflakes and snow scenes are good for neutral cards, yes, as is everything snow:) But peace doves, too me, is a bit too holiday neutral -- more like an year-round image. And I actually associate it with churches and religious rites of passage. (Christenings and confirmations.) The doves are mainly a Judo-Christian image, aren't they? Of course, if your friends are mostly Christians and Jews, that could still work:) Penguins are a bit too South pole, I think ...Smiley

As an atheist, I don't mind at all if someone sends me a Christmas card with a Christian motif, as long as they don't try to convert me:) I think it's nice to receive Yule cards regardless.

On the cards I send out, I usually go for something with a "nisse" or several, or a sheaf with birds. I've also done winter landscapes and trees, both evergreen and not, sometimes with forest animals (like hares, deer and foxes) or birds.

(1) They sent an electronic card, like the year before, and gave the money they saved on printing etc. to charity. I rather liked that idea:)

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« Reply #28 on: September 27, 2005 05:41:20 PM »

I like culturally and religiously neutral things, since they imply that not everyone subscribes to a certain way of living or thinking.

Some things that I think of when I think nondemoninational are your typical images of candy canes, gingerbread men, snowflakes, snow-covered trees, and roaring fireplaces. Scarves and mittens, sleds and snowmen.

Heh. I once had a friend who sent out homemade holiday cards, with a border of different religious symbols, including symbols from religions listed in video games and books. Gotta hand it to the guy, that was one of the coolest things I'd ever seen!

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« Reply #29 on: October 07, 2005 08:36:34 AM »

I don't know if anyone corrected this as I'm too lazy to read all the posts, but someone said candy cane, and that's one you shouldn't use.  It's actually an upside down J, for Jesus. Wink  You can check out the history of the candy cane on-line.  It's pretty interesting.  I'm thinking things like snowflakes... gifts (Huh) maybe...
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