Saturday, December 13, 2008
Santa's the odd man out in holiday displays
Image via the Chicago Tribune
Ah, Santa. That jolly, selfless old guy who squeezes his fat ass down the chimney to bring joy to every little girl and boy. We always seem to be feeding him, asking him for favors and forgetting about him as soon as Christmas is over.
But who is this Santa guy, really? Is he a religious symbol, an icon of commerce or just a creeper who knows how to break into our houses? After so many years of Christmas imagery dominating storefronts and commericals, there's been an increased push from governments and businesses and to take any and all religious symbols out of Christmas in an effort to include non-Christians. (I hear we call it "The Holidays" now). That means one little Santa can make the difference between being "culturally sensivite" and being "too religious."
So which is it?
Golden, Colorado wrestled with this debate when local Rabbi Levi Brackman asked City Council for permission to put up an 8-foot menorah on one of Golden's intersections. City council disagreed, voting to ban religious symbols on city property. Angry protestors found the ruling unfair, pointing out the fact that City Council had no intention of taking down the Santa Claus deocration that perches on Golden's famous "Howdy Folks!" arch downtown. That Santa display was a religious symbol because Santa is an incarnation of Saint Nicholas, a Catholic bishop from the fourth century.
Despite loud protests from residents, City Council voted to keep the Santa display because of its historical appearance on the arch and Santa's role as a commercial symbol. They plan to re-examine their policies on holiday decorations after the season is over.
Read the whole story here at the Golden Transcript, and check out the Denver Post's follow-up on the meaning behind other holiday-season symbols.
Or, check out Wonkette's dispach on Santa, the supposed Marxist, here. Hilarity!