Christmas does not belong in the workplace because it undermines diversity at work. And businesses that promote diversity have more profits in the long run than companies that do not have a diverse workforce.

A big problem with Christmas is that those of us who have no reason to celebrate it have to spend a month between Thanksgiving and New Year’s dealing with Christmas at work. Christmas is the only religious holiday that everyone has to stop working for. It’s the only religious event that offices have parties to celebrate. These practices alienate non-Christians.

Businesses that curtail practices that alienate minorities will see growth to their bottom line as a direct result of this action. And besides, promoting acceptance of diverse backgrounds at work enriches our lives, independent of the bottom line.

But encouraging diversity doesn’t mean diverse ways to celebrate Christmas. Diversity is giving people space to ignore Christmas. Forcing people to take the day off requires everyone to run their work life around this holiday in a way they might not have chosen for themselves. Yet still, Christmas continues to permeate workplaces across the United States.

Do you want to make a difference? Start with yourself. When it comes to discussing Christmas in the workplace, here are five offensive things people say to someone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas. Don’t say them.

1. “Christmas is not a religious holiday.”
The only people who think Christmas is not religious are the Christians. Everyone else thinks, “This is not my holiday.” In fact, only a Christian would feel enough authority over the holiday to declare that it is not Christian.

To think that Christmas is for everyone is tantamount to Americans who think that everyone says bathing suit for the thing you wear to go swimming. In fact, the British say “swimming costume” but you’d never know that if you only hang around Americans. The smaller your frame of reference the more convinced you are that the way you do things is the way everyone does things.

2. “Stop complaining! You get an extra day off from work.”
I don’t want a day off on Christmas. It’s a great day to work. No one calls. No one interrupts me. And in many workplaces there’s great camaraderie in the office on Christmas because only a few people are there, and they all have something in common: They don’t celebrate Christmas.

I want a day off for Yom Kippur, which I usually have to take a personal day for. Why do I have to take a personal day for Yom Kippur but no one has to take a personal day for Christmas? This is not equal treatment for religious groups.

3. “Christmas is about good cheer. Focus on that and lose your bad attitude.”
I know I have a bad attitude. But consider that the fact that good cheer is mandated in December is also a Christian trope. For example, Thanksgiving is the holiday that makes a lot of sense to surround with good cheer. It’s about gratitude. Makes sense that we’d focus on Thanksgiving.

And the idea that we add Hanukkah to the mix is ridiculous. Hanukkah is about a war victory. The good cheer mandates are not coming from the Jews except in a sort of peer pressure way to cope with the Christian insistence that we all be happy because the Christians are happy.

4. “You can also take a day off for Hanukkah.”
First of all, Hanukkah is eight days. Second of all, the holiday isn’t a big deal to us, except that it’s a way for Jewish kids to not feel outgunned in the gift category. Jacob Sullum wrote in Reason magazine last year, “It is inappropriate…to make such a fuss over Chanukah, a minor Jewish holiday whose importance has been inflated in the popular imagination by its accidental proximity to Christmas.”

So look, we don’t want a day off for Hanukkah. Or any other Jewish holiday. We want floating holidays that everyone uses, for whatever they want. It doesn’t have to be religious, or it can be. But we don’t need our work telling us when to take time off. It’s insulting and totally impractical.

5. “We get Christmas off at work because this is a Christian country.”
People actually say this to me. Every year. I’m not kidding. People tell me that I should move to Israel if I don’t want to celebrate Christmas. Really.

I tell you this so that you understand what it’s like to be a minority. The majority of the country is not New York and Los Angeles, and the majority of the country thinks Christmas is actually sanctioned by the government. For example, my son’s public school in Madison, Wisconsin has the kids make a December calendar that includes the birthdays of four saints. Surely this is illegal mixing of church and state, but I don’t hear any complaining from parents.

People want tolerance and diversity but they are not sure how to encourage it. There is a history of tolerance starting first in business, where the change makes economic sense: Think policies against discrimination toward women, and health insurance that includes gay partners. Tolerance and awareness in the workplace reliably trickle down to other areas of society.

So do what you can at work, where you can argue that tolerance and diversity improve the bottom line, and you will affect change in society, where tolerance and diversity give deeper meaning to our lives.

339 replies
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  1. Guy Incognito
    Guy Incognito says:

    Penelope

    Let me preface this by saying that I am a secular Russian-born Jew who is now an American citizen who neither has interest in Jewish holidays or Christian holidays, or any holidays that have anything to do with religion. I like having the Christmas holiday and I consider it something American rather than religious. I think in fact it should be renamed to what it really is “Buy me random sh*t, that I will be returning next week for something I really want, at same time keeping the US economy afloat day” (I suggested this to a couple of marketing folks at my company and they inexplicably shot it down) rather than having it named after you know… Christ.

    Frankly I think you just like to complain, like most Jewish women that I have come across. This is a personal observation rather than a prejudice so please keep your pant suit on because my mother is a Jewish woman and as a good boychik I love her very much.

    I do think that office decorations if present need to be kept modern secular that can include santa, who has his american roots in the coca cola company rather than anything religious. Definitely no nativity scenes, no menorahs, and no kwanza doohikies.

    Enjoy your days off Penelope, because when in Rome… you know the rest.

    • yvonne
      yvonne says:

      I myself do not impose to others how they should feel or believe in, and hopefully no one else should have that imposed on thme.

      I love Christmas and believe in jesus and God and the holy spirit.
      I do not hurt others with my beliefs and cause pain or anquish as well. I do not really understand fanatical behaviors as well.

      Peace and love for all is my motto. that we all live in this one planet and be should get along no matter our differences.

      i do not tolerate violence and pain towards anyone. agree to disagree and be a adult about differences.

    • yvonne
      yvonne says:

      Gee, someone who would rather work instead of using the time on a day to rest relax and gather your thoughts about the world, volunteer your extra time to make someone life better. or is it always about you and what you want or what you think and what you need, are you a selfish person ?

  2. sarah
    sarah says:

    Interestingly, I am not a Christian (or indeed of any other religious denomination – and no, that doesn’t mean lapsed christian, that means I have ancestors of many different faiths, all of whom lost it a minimum of two generations ago) and I still say that Christmas is not just for Christians. It is a time of year that pretty much everyone in my family has off, and so a great opportunity for us to all spend time together.

    Also, as an American, you have a limited amount to complain about. You have one holiday devoted to religion. Try living in the UK, where virtually every statutory holiday is about christianity.

  3. anna
    anna says:

    Thanks for saying this. I know you will get a lot of flack, with the alleged “War on Christmas” hype. The LEAST anyone can do is stop assuming everyone is Christian or celebrates Christmas or that other holidays during December are exactly the same (“Hanukkah is Christmas for Jews, Diwali is Christmas for Hindus, etc”).

  4. gavin
    gavin says:

    maybe you need to move. when i was in new jersey we got off for various Jewish holidays. which was new to me and quite welcome as we moved there from the deep south. maybe the perspective in wisconsin (i think that is where you live) is the all of the US is Christian state. move east, you will find a different perspective there, but you will still get off for Christmas Day

  5. Caitlin
    Caitlin says:

    Didn’t you write the exact same blog post this time last year?

    I don’t know what it’s like in America, but in Australia and the UK we don’t have Thanksgiving. So for us, Christmas serves two purposes. It’s a religious festival for Christians, and it’s a secular Thanksgiving-style holiday for everyone else. I’m sure to some extent that’s true in America as well, although I can believe that it’s less so since the US is a country that is ultra-sensitive about matters of religion.

    I know Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and atheists who celebrate Christmas as a cultural festival with their families. Maybe your family doesn’t but you don’t have the right to say that you speak for all minorities or even all Jews.

    I also don’t really see why the majority should be without its cultural traditions and, yes, even religious holidays. The simple fact that Christmas is not observed by everyone does not make it offensive by nature. Personally I would welcome it if we had observed other religious holidays in the workplace as well.

  6. Gina
    Gina says:

    I always find this discussion so interesting. After studying four years of Latin in a public high school, it became blatantly obvious that “Christmas” is based on the ancient Roman’s Saturnalia holiday that celebrated the end of the harvest season. Today, I’m agnostic and my husband is an atheist. He gets the week off between Christmas and New Years because he works for a university that shuts down. I work that week because all of our staff wants it off and there has to be one VP in the office. Basically, we just celebrate the end of another long year (but even that time-frame is based on Christianity). I agree, Thanksgiving should be celebrated more in the workplace. I also find “Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings” cards insulting. Since I’m good at design, I make my own “Happy New Years” cards.

  7. t h rive
    t h rive says:

    Hey hey you make some good, and moderately flame-inducing points.

    You are pretty much right about the Christianity of Christmas. And I’m not even sure about which parts of Christianity feel that their holiday is for them. For example, I grew up in a REALLY Roman Catholic country overseas and to them Xmas really is something special, AND it’s the most consumer oriented holiday in the history of man. It’s both.

    #3 point – Xmas somehow IS about good cheer. Somehow. Through all the the shopping, extravagant light displays (or house bling) , and discussions about it’s place in society etc…it’s still about shutting up and buying someone a present and spending time with family and friends cause that’s what happens.

    What I would agree with is that most others who are not Xtians DON’T relate to the holiday as theirs, but they do appreciate the time off. Also, they probably don’t complain about not having their own religious days represented in a Govt. holiday. You live in a Xtian nation, they will choose who’s holidays you have.

    Happy everything!

  8. Susan
    Susan says:

    ” Forcing people to take the day off requires everyone to run their work life around this holiday in a way they might not have chosen for themselves.”

    I’d be interested in hearing commenter’s ideas about days off. Should we have shared days off in workplaces? How about Thanksgiving? 4th of July? New Year’s Day? Those are days when many workplaces close.

  9. Caitlin
    Caitlin says:

    Oh and by the way, I am not a Christian. I am an agnostic, my mother is a Buddhist, and my father a lapsed Catholic / atheist.

    So this statement is just plain wrong:
    “The only people who think Christmas is not religious are the Christians. Everyone else thinks, ‘This is not my holiday.’ In fact, only a Christian would feel enough authority over the holiday to declare that it is not Christian.”

  10. Greg Jackson
    Greg Jackson says:

    I agree with your analysis and commentary on religious holidays being sanctioned and promoted in the workplace. As you mentioned, the perfect solution is to allow the use of personal days for celebrating your personal choices in the practice of religion. Don’t make me have to deal with your issues.

  11. Caitlin
    Caitlin says:

    PS I definitely agree with Guy above who says yes to Santa in the workplace and no to nativity scenes.

    Just out of curiosity, don’t you get public holidays for Easter as well? How do you feel about that? It’s a more deeply religious holiday for Christians and less of a cultural holiday (despite arguments about its roots as a pagan fertility festival).

  12. Danilo
    Danilo says:

    Speaking as someone who has never had religion, I’m not even going to bother enumerating the many ways you are wrong. There’s so very little left of proper Christianity left in Christmas, transmuting as it has into a secular orgy of consumerism.

    I think, Penelope, that you’re just trying to be the John C. Dvorak of career advice columnists. Which is okay. I also think, having read you for most of 2007, that you have a pretty hearty disposition toward grumpiness. Grumpy makes for good blogging, so I don’t begrudge you that. But try to give us grumpy for grumpy’s sake. The whole axing Christmas will make you more profitable line is more of a stretch than plausability allows.

  13. kathryn
    kathryn says:

    1) I am a Christian of a Southernish Baptisty persuasion.

    2) I totally agree, especially with the floating holidays suggestion.

    3) The “Christmas Season” (period of commercial religious exploitation) now begins Nov. 1st as soon as Halloween is over. I can sympathize with how miserable and uncomfortable this makes people who don’t celebrate Christmas. I say sympathize because I feel that it co-opts a sacred occasion for financial gain and dilutes the message of the holiday. Thus I am not happy to see a thousand “Christmas” items on display or celebration of my holy day forced upon others.

    4) You’d never see Saint Days labeled on a public school mandated calendar in Alabama. That’s papist. (^_~)

    5) Caitlin, Easter is always scheduled on a Sunday for symbolic reasons. The Friday preceding it is also a holiday, but is rarely given as a day off unless it overlaps with the Spring Break of the Public Schools.

  14. Susan
    Susan says:

    Should there be any days that most offices close? How about New Year’s Day? Thanksgiving?

    * * * * * *

    Those are fine. Great. They are non-religious. The point here is that we should endorse particular religions by giving days off for them at work.

    –Penelope

  15. Jeremy A.
    Jeremy A. says:

    You know what? I had this whole long speach type comment that I was going to post chastising you for being intolerant of someone elses religion and just plain whiny. With a brief lesson on the Constitution. But you aren’t worth the key strokes. You simply aren’t. I challenge you on one thing though: Please post the part of the Constitution that says that church and state must be seperate. Because it sure as hell isn’t the First Ammendment, lady.

    • Mark P.
      Mark P. says:

      Whereas the first amendment doesn’t expressly spell out that there must be a “separation” of church and state, the separation of church and state were spoken of often by many of the founding fathers. It was decided very early on in this country’s history that you couldn’t have freedom OF religion without having a certain amount of freedom FROM religion. Separation of church and state is a very long standing legal precedent that is a very important part of our country’s history. However, if you’d like to live in a country that doesn’t separate religion from government, I’m sure they’d love to have you in Iran.

  16. Derek
    Derek says:

    This could get interesting – you’re in the right part of the state (of Wisconsin that is) that someone out there might bring a lawsuit against the school for marking those holidays on the calendar.

    Then I (in Milwaukee) get to listen to all the political hack jobs on the radio drone on and on about how eff-d up “those looneys” in Madison are for “destroying” Christmas. Thanks for the entertainment!

    And in an effort to make this more on topic, a side story on office Christmas decorations: Me and another guy were put in charge of putting together the fake Christmas tree. We emptied the box and were holding the pieces trying to figure how it went together. He looks at me and asks, “Do you know how this works?”

    I say, “No, we always had natural trees growing up. You?”

    “No, I’m Jewish.”

  17. Thursday Bram
    Thursday Bram says:

    I completely and utterly agree. In college I was penalized for taking off Yom Kippur. A professor who’d never heard of the holiday and never left the state of Oklahoma in his life decided to give an exam with “no make ups, no exceptions” on Yom Kippur.

    I don’t need Christmas off. I need employers and teachers to be reasonable about my need to take the High Holidays off. I completely agree with your idea of floating holidays: plenty of people need Christmas off, whether they’re buying into commercialism or they’re actually getting their butts to church. But I need my day off about four months earlier.

  18. theo
    theo says:

    Penelope,

    Well Said. Being Pagan I am constantly a little annoyed at the fuss the country makes about the season. My blood-family celebrates Christmas, and I choose to spend the season with them where appropriate. My chosen-family celebrates Yule, so there is a coinciding celebration. It makes things easy for us, but I know a lot of people who don’t celebrate this season at all.

    To all of those about to say “The US is a Christian Country,” think again. The United States is a country made up of a diverse religious background, including individuals from all walks of life and religious paths. The various Christian sects are just some of the religious affiliations practiced by people all over this country.

    I have no problem with people celebrating their chosen holiday, but I agree with Penelope. We should move to floating days. Government holidays make sense to me as secular days. Religious holidays don’t. — My religion has eight holy days a year, if I want them off I have to take personal time. I don’t mind that because I love to spend the holidays with the people close to me, but floating days would mean more to me.

  19. Aielman
    Aielman says:

    ” 1. ‘Christmas is not a religious holiday.’
    The only people who think Christmas is not religious are the Christians.
    I was not aware that the jolly fat guy was found anywhere in the bible. Don’t remember anything about fir trees either.

    “2. ‘Stop complaining! You get an extra day off from work.’
    I don't want a day off on Christmas. It's a great day to work”

    So go in and work. Just because you don’t like the holiday doesn’t mean you have to screw it up for those who do.

    “3. "Christmas is about good cheer. Focus on that and lose your bad attitude."
    I know I have a bad attitude. But consider that the fact that good cheer is mandated in December is also a Christian trope”

    It’s also a Pagan Yule, Jewish Chaunuka, Bahamian Junkanoo, Hatian Ganga Bois, and Buddhist Bodhi Day philosophy as well.

    “4. "You can also take a day off for Hanukkah."
    First of all , Hanukkah is eight days. Second of all, the holiday isn't a big deal to us, except that it's a way for Jewish kids to not feel outgunned in the gift category”

    First, Christamas is 12 days. You get one day off…quit your bitching. Second, the holiday is as big a deal as you make it. When you have kids, it’s a very big deal…when you don’t, it is or it isn’t, depending on how much you like the holiday.

    “5. ‘We get Christmas off at work because this is a Christian country.’
    People actually say this to me. Every year. I'm not kidding. People tell me that I should move to Israel if I don't want to celebrate Christmas. Really.”

    We get Christmas off because it was declared a federal holiday in 1870 along with the 4th of July because, according to Senator Hannibal Hamlin who introduced the bill, “There are no legal holidays here, and this bill merely provides for what I think are the legal holidays in every state of the Union.”

    If people don’t like that you don’t care to celebrate it, go tell them to pee up a rope. Just because 95% of Americans do celebrate it in some form or another, doesn’t mean you have to.

  20. Scott
    Scott says:

    There are so many points to argue I hardly no where to begin. More than anything I’m just sad that you aren’t able to see past the religious aspects in our society and simply enjoy this time of year. Christmas can be enjoyed as a wonderful cultural celebration or as Christ’s birth. Why not just enjoy it?

  21. Susan
    Susan says:

    Thanksgiving is a holiday that is much more important in some cultures than in others. Should everyone be “forced” to take it off? How would it be if, in workplaces that currently close on Thanksgiving, policy changed and it suddenly got more difficult (or impossible) for workers without seniority to take Thanksgiving off?

  22. Greg L.
    Greg L. says:

    Penelope,

    Your post reminds me of how a non-profit agency I used to work for in a former life handled the holdiday/diversity issue. The agency had a high level of involvement with a local Native American tribe, and some of our employees were members of that tribe.

    When Columbus Day rolled around the agency amended the list of paid holidays to include an option to choose either to take Columbus Day off or a Paiute tribal holiday that happened to fall close to Columbus Day.

    It may sound simple, but I liked the idea and it helped the Paiutes who worked for us feel further valued and respected. Maybe this is a move companies can set their sights on regarding Christmas and other non-Christian observances.

    * * * * * *

    Oh. This is an intersting point- about Columbus Day – and one I never thought of. Thanks.

    –Penelope

  23. Greg L.
    Greg L. says:

    In another vein, if I lived in Israel the coin would be reversed in regards to the workplace endorsing particular religious holidays. Would that also be wrong in your view?

  24. Matt Bingham
    Matt Bingham says:

    Agreed – Floating holidays are about the only way to keep it fair. Work should not dictate how you spend religious holidays. Not really adding much but that is the only way to keep religion out of the scope when people take off. And of course most people will be gone for x-mas…that’s fine. The office can be closed for business but not closed for work.

    Matt

  25. Lucky Kalanges
    Lucky Kalanges says:

    I wholeheartedly echo the Mariah Carey comment! It was not even December and I was sick of that whiny rendition.

    Christmas has strayed so far from its roots its hard to argue, its been hijacked by retail companies as a vehicle to drive revenues. Frankly so has Thanksgiving strayed, I’m sure the Pilgrims would be appalled by its current form.

    My advice PT is to make lemonade. Its never going to change, so make the best of it – create a Trunk family holiday or tradition, I know many Jews who that do that. Its annoying but basically harmless, no one is trying to convert non-Christians to Christianity – your kids are not in any danger making a calendar. Relax, have a cup of cheer!

  26. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    I read the article this morning and then have been popping back to check up on the comments, and I can see both sides of the discussion.

    However, one of the suggestions that keeps coming up is floating holidays. I haven't really seen this enacted before, but get the concept, everyone has a set of holidays that they can use for their religious days or otherwise, rather than having specific days off.

    I just have a few questions on this though:

    1) How about different religions having different numbers of religious holidays?

    2) What about support staff. I understand what you mean when you can say the office is closed for business but open for work, but what if, for example, your entire IT department is gone, so you can't get any assistance. Or if you're in a production/manufacturing environment, and your packaging team is all gone?

    I'm not saying that the floating holidays thing is a bad idea, just wondering how situations like that would be dealt with?

    Cheers,

    Adam

    * * * * * * *

    This is a good question. I have found that people are very willing to work hours for those who need time off for religious reasons. For example, I used to work in my food services jobs on Christmas because it was so important to other people to have the time off. And many years there are articles in the New York Times about the non-Christians who work during Christmas at jobs they don’t usually do so that other people can have the time off. I have also found that non-Jews have always pitched in to cover for me when I took Yom Kippur off.

    So in fact, time off for religious reasons is an opportunity for people to help each other. And treating the situation as a floating holiday instead of a mandatory holiday opens up the chance for this kindness to happen.

    –Penelope

  27. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    You know what annoys me? When people blame all Christians for everything any other Christian ever did, said or wore to the prom. Seriously.

    Don’t look now PT but your prejudice is showing.

  28. annie
    annie says:

    Where do your kids go to school? You should make an informal complaint. We never made any calendars with saints when I was a student in MMSD. I remember hearing about Madison being one of the few places that stood up to the Pledge of Allegiance requirement in 2001 just because it included the word god. Things have apparently changed. Of course in NYC, plans are already in motion to fund an Islamic public school so who knows where we are headed.

    The more progressive employers give off for Christmas and for other holidays as well. My office was a ghost town during September. I think that will be the trend going forward.

  29. Blake Thomas
    Blake Thomas says:

    Ho, Ho, Ho My Dearest Penelope,

    Yeh I hear what you are saying, but sometimes you really have to know when and what battles are worth picking. My almost 20 years in fortune 100 corporate America, Christmas parties were and are some of my fondest memories. It always struck me funny/sad as to how cheap and lack of good taste some bosses could have. Will it be a ham (to add salt to your already exsposed holiday scars, or a turkey and a cheap bottle of wine?)for the winning employee of the year.

    As a single corporate guy, there was no better time of the year, if you couldn’t score at a company Christmas party there was no hope for the living. Whether you are Christian, Jew, or even a not, call it the end of the year bash. Most companies use a calendar year, if not then it’s the middle of the year bash.

    I say just go with the flow and use the time to get ahead of your co-workers when it comes to cleaning up your station and be ready when the gates open for the new year.

    All the best dear, Blake

  30. Arlene
    Arlene says:

    I was raised a Christian, and I really have come to hate the modern version of Christmas.

    I’ve long had a theory: Workplace Christmas enforcement is, among other things, a Darwinian device to thin the working mom population, because if you can dump a couple of hundred hours of shopping, baking, decorating, entertaining, and cleaning into an already overpacked schedule and survive to see the new year, evidently you deserve to live. Now there’s something to celebrate!

    At least that’s how it came to seem to me when I was a young working mom some years ago. Now that my son is an adult, I’ve noticed another grim thing workplace Christmas observances are for: Getting employees to eat and drink too much, so they can look like idiots in front of the boss. Oh, and don’t forget to spend the rest of the year hectoring these same employees about “good health practices” — like avoiding alcohol and losing weight.

    Personal days in lieu of enforced holiday “cheer” are a great idea.

  31. Jason
    Jason says:

    This post has shaken me a bit simply because it is contrary to my expectation of your work. In short, you are saying we should not have state sanctioned religious holidays in the USA because of the separation of church and state and the idea of supporting one faith’s celebrations limits opportunity for others. Your argument is a classic straw man.

    Many commenters have dealt with the holes in your arguments but what bothers me most is not the logic of the argument but your willingness to discount history. In reality, until the Slavic Jew migrations to the USA, the country was overwhelming Christian. In the past century, the USA has welcomed people of all faiths. I wish the same could be said of the rest of the world.

    Your arguments are not with Christmas and you seem to be to caught up in your dislike for American culture more than having an issue with religion. If you work for an organization that will not allow you to have your religious holidays, it is an issue with the organization.

  32. klein
    klein says:

    I am so happy that there are many others here who are finally disagreeing with a Penelope post!

    Pen, dear, Just don’t celebrate the holiday! And why on Earth would you not want another day off work? As you say, you aren’t going to get much done on the actual day anyway. Practicing Jews seem to get several other holidays off throughout the year that the rest of us do not get, so enjoy those! And you don’t have to take a personal day, if it for religious reasons. Just stand up to the employer. And don’t you also get to go home before sun down on certain days?

    So, fire up a Menorah and toast a Snowman-shaped marshmallow.

  33. Chief Talksalot
    Chief Talksalot says:

    @ Jason:
    “In reality, until the Slavic Jew migrations to the USA, the country was overwhelming Christian.”

    Take THAT, Native Americans!

  34. Joe Grossberg
    Joe Grossberg says:

    Bravo!

    The money quote, IMHO: “The smaller your frame of reference the more convinced you are that the way you do things is the way everyone does things.”

    Many (not all) of the commenters excoriating you are the same nitwits who can’t comprehend how the Washington Redskins’ name could offend anyone.

    And, judging by the choice of words (e.g. “bitching”, “dear”, “lady”), it’s compounded by resentment that a Jewish *woman* would have the chutzpah to tell Christian men they’re doing something wrong.

  35. A Gal
    A Gal says:

    I work in a company run by Israelis and we have Christmas eve and Christmas day off. The Jewish High Holy Days are *not* company wide holidays.

    Odd, I think. I too espouse the value of “floating holidays” given for religious reasons–say 4-5 per year.

    That way, if you want to work on Christmas, and save your day off for your trip next year to Timbuktu, you can. I had years where I had no family and it would have been nice to go into work with others rather than being alone on that day which is so loaded with history and tradition that it almost collapses on itself with the weight.

    All that said, it’s important to remember that Xmas off was a big deal when everyone worked in factories for long hours and no wages. A paid Christmas off was one of the key issues labor unions fought for—and that’s how our legacy started.

  36. Bill
    Bill says:

    If you strongly object to the calendar with the saints’ birthdays, consider contacting Annie Laurie Gaylor from the Freedom From Religion Foundation in Madison. She’d be all over it.

  37. Don Grunt
    Don Grunt says:

    Merry Christmas! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to join my office Christmas caroling group. We’re going to serenade Human Resources

  38. leslie
    leslie says:

    Arlene said: I've long had a theory: Workplace Christmas enforcement is, among other things, a Darwinian device to thin the working mom population, because if you can dump a couple of hundred hours of shopping, baking, decorating, entertaining, and cleaning into an already overpacked schedule and survive to see the new year, evidently you deserve to live. Now there's something to celebrate!

    LOL! Good point. I am not a working Mom but as the owner of a small business with many obligations, I have cut out the baking, decorating, and shopping. Years ago everyone in my family came to a truce–no gift giving. I send the money I would have spent on giving presents to people who already have everything to a community food bank and charity.

  39. Andrea
    Andrea says:

    I do celebrate Christmas. It’s always been a family day instead of anything religious for us.

    However, I’ve always been aware of how the holiday can make some of my friends uncomfortable.

    When I moved back to Colorado from the East Coast, I was STUNNED when the office holiday party (in Northern Colorado) featured coworkers singing Christmas carols (and not just Jingle Bells). It made me really uncomfortable.

  40. Susan
    Susan says:

    Given in the Northern Hemisphere Christmas falls in the middle of the dark, cold and wet winter i think it’s a good time of year to hunker down, not have to go into the office and to eat a lot of carbohydrates.

    Also, the twinkling lights cheer up the dark evenings.

    Interesting blog post – i’m enjoying the varying views in the comments.

  41. Misha
    Misha says:

    I agree with Don, “It's hard to be a Jew on Christmas”…more like from Nov. 1 through the New Year. By the time the actual holiday hits, I’m sick to my stomach by the commercialism, hearing the same songs repeatedly, and “Christmas cheer”. People shouldn’t need a holiday to be in a giving and good-spirited mood.

    I join in my chosen family’s celebrations be they birthdays, Canadian Thanksgiving, or even Christmas. Though some of them may not be from my culture or beliefs, the holidays mean something to them as does my being there, and that’s good enough for me. And it goes two ways, I bring latkes and matzo ball soup to the table.

    I wasn’t happy about having to miss high school classes for synagogue during the high holy days. It would have been much simpler if everyone else had the day off too. Ah well, c’est la vie.

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