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. Elizabeth Winston
    Elizabeth Winston says:

    Penelope,

    Thank you for your post. As a Jew, I can not understand how anyone can argue that Christmas is a non-religious, American holiday. It has the word “Christ” in it for a reason! I must admit, I liked having the day off when I worked for someone else, but now that I only make what I bill, I too wish I could work on Christmas. But I can’t work, because our support staff have off. I grew up in a diverse community in a large midwestern city and we had some Jewish holidays off from public school too. These days, I always forget to take work off for the high holidays in time. This is a minor pain, but I want to point out that being in the majority means knowing that your workplace will take the holiday off for you. I do take the opportunity to cover for co-workers, taking emergency on-call on Christmas. I also try to volunteer on this day to help others celebrate. This is the first year that my husband and I have a child and my husband is already getting the same comments from his co-workers that my father used to get, along the lines of “How can you deprive your child of Christmas?.” My husband was raised Christian and is now not practicing. We decided a long time ago to raise our kids Jewish, which means no Christmas tree, no Santa, etc. I seriously doubt our 7-month-old will mind.

  2. Norcross
    Norcross says:

    As the son of a liberal baptist minster and Irish Catholic mother, I can agree that the Christmas holiday is riddled with religious overtones that can be offensive to those who don’t follow that faith. Also being a former aethist and still being non-dogmatic about my particular faith, I don’t like the constant barage of Christmas. I do, however, like spending time with my family, and basically taking a “forced” day off gives a lot of people I know the chance to do that.

  3. Casey
    Casey says:

    I’m pretty complacent about the whole issue, but I wanted to applaud your courage for bringing up an issue about which you feel strongly, but would also certainly strike a nerve with many folks. You made me think a bit about ways I can be a little more sensitive to others who may not think and believe exactly the same way I do. I don’t understand why some people would resist that so much.

  4. Eve
    Eve says:

    “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.”

    You want holidays everyone can use…therefore those of us who do celebrate Christmas, we should what-not do so, so as not to offend you?

    Give me a break! Stop complaining about it. As far as Christmas promoting diversity…first of all, if you want to complain about being in the minority because you don’t celebrate it, think about this: Those of us that do cannot even call Christmas the name it was originally called. We have to use the term “Holiday” so maybe we should say we are being opressed because true Christians who want to celebrate it are being forced not to call it what we want to.

    I don’t understand how you can say that you want one type of thing so you should get it and stop those of us who do celebrate the day not to. Isn’t that doing the same thing you accuse us of doing?

  5. Matt Singley
    Matt Singley says:

    Wow, what an interesting and explosive post! You’ve certainly stirred up a lot of discussion. It has been educational to hear from both sides on this.

    I will stay our of the fray, my office will be closed this year and every year afterward on Christmas. I guess it helps that I’m the executive director of a large Christian church. ;)

  6. Eve
    Eve says:

    Oh and by the way…if someone who was Jewish told me “Happy Hanukah” I would not be offended. So why is it offensive to say Christmas? The reason “I don’t celebrate it” doesn’t make sense.

  7. Eve
    Eve says:

    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.

    Exactly to whoever said this above! I would not get angry if we observed other holidays. Even being a (new) Christian, Christmas is only a federaly observed holiday, it isn’t even really Jesus’s actual birthdate! So why get offended and call it religious!

  8. Carol
    Carol says:

    Just remember the *real* meaning of Christmas – it’s a winter festival that the christians co-opted for their own purposes. When I lived in Australia I couldn’t have cared less about it, but now I live in Europe I love the lights and the celebrating – really brightens up those dull winter days. So cheer up and mull some wine for goondess sakes woman!

  9. Vicki
    Vicki says:

    I like the idea of floating holidays too :)

    Christmas Day and Boxing Day are public holidays, but I’ve never heard any of the non-Christians here complain. We get yummy Indian sweets at Diwali too :)

    We have a “Christmas decorating contest” at work for two weeks in December to see who can best decorate their cubicle, but I never thought that it might be offensive to people of other faiths. As an athiest, I think christmas is an overly-commercialised season, but I don’t associate it with Christianity in particular – especially with its pagan roots. I will ask some of the non-Christians here and see what they say.

  10. Kevin Fitzroy
    Kevin Fitzroy says:

    But what about this post from Ms Rosen’s past:

    “Yom Kippur provides a welcome break from work.”
    http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2001/09/30/yom-kippur-provides-a-welcome-break-from-work/

    “After that, I usually took a day off with all the other Jews. I came to enjoy the Yom Kippur chatter in the office among Jews because during the rest of the year, Jews are mostly secular and so is the chatter. Yom Kippur would be more convenient if it fell on Christmas (everything's closed, Jews have nothing to do – a great day to fast!) but I realized that the Yom Kippur interruption of work would not derail my career, it would only derail my weekly schedule.”

    Perhaps you could allow Christmas to simply derail your day, week, month, life. The choice is yours, America.

  11. Kearns
    Kearns says:

    Full disclosure: I am Muslim and previously was Christian in name only.

    Although I agree with the sentiment on #2, I did try to work one year. I got nothing done. Nothing. I haven’t tried to work on Christmas again, I just stock up on food (since everything is closed) and play video games or watch movies.

    As for a day off for Yom Kippur, I picked the job I work for now because I told them up front I need Muslim holidays off. If it is important enough, you can find a job where they will give you the days and not make you use vacation. (or give you so much vacation that you don’t care). Plus if you move to the mid-atlantic states like NY, NJ, MD, and even OH, everyone’s heard of Yom Kippur and it won’t be a big deal.

  12. Marie
    Marie says:

    Penelope:

    I have a lot of respect for you, but not this blog post.

    Suck it up, just like I have to do when I worked for an Orthodox Jew who made me follow his customs and even had the “Holiday” lunch at a nasty kosher cafe.

    If you had not notice many, many more people celebrate Christmas more than any other religion. Last I checked in politics and the workplace, the majority rules.

    Stop bi*ching and it will be January in no time!

  13. Been there done that
    Been there done that says:

    I think you made some good points today, but as usual you have said it in an inflammatory way. I know this gets more blog hits, but it does not always make your position seem reasonable, and if what you really want is change, I might suggest less “brazenness” in your posts (pun intended). I like the idea of floating holidays though. What I nice idea.

  14. HR Wench
    HR Wench says:

    I think it is a great idea to have just a bunch of floating holidays so employees can pick and choose. However, unfortunately, not every company is able to operate in such a fashion. If someone is employed at the latter I certainly encourage them to have a discussion with their HR rep about some sort of accommodation. As an HR Manager I will work my butt off to get someone a holiday swapped out with another day if that is what they want. I’ve done that a couple of times with individuals who wanted to have MLK day off rather than the day after Thanksgiving. Here’s the thing though – I don’t know unless you as an employee tell me!! :)

    As a Christian I do not insist upon anything but to live and believe in my own, personal beliefs. I do not insist that you, as a Jewish person, “be happy” as you say in your post and/or celebrate Hanukkah or anything else for that matter. I don’t insist upon parties at work, decorations (anywhere – especially not in my house!) or talk of santa and his reindeer. I hate the disruptions – the inability to run to the mall to buy socks on the 23rd of December without being prepared to wait 4 hours in traffic. I hate that something so sacred to me and my family is “coupled” with retail silliness and a fat dude in a red suit. To me, presents and a tree are an American holiday. But Christmas, the real Christmas, to me that is very, very different.

    Just as I’m sure you hope Christians do not lump all Jews together I ask that you do not lump all Christians together.

  15. Jim C
    Jim C says:

    Your third point is a bit shaky. The whole Yule thing is pagan, not Christian. The ancient Romans celebrated the feast of Sol Invictus on the winter solstice. When Rome went Christian the church co-opted the old feast day, but it was originally pagan. They made a bigger deal out of Yule in Scandinavia, because with those dark weeks of winter they need a reason to party.

    We don’t know exactly when Jesus was born, but we do know from circumstantial evidence that it wasn’t in midwinter. A lot of us would like to give Yule back to the pagans. Unfortunately there is too much inertia in the church calendar, and it ain’t going to happen.

  16. RS
    RS says:

    Interesting discussion. Floating holidays could be a good idea. But, I do wonder how the situation would play out at a company where the vast majority of employees want/expect the 25th of December off. Would it really be more cost effective to keep the office “officially” open with just a skeleton crew? If a business tells customers it’s going to be open for the holiday, it would need to have a fairly complete staff to adequately respond to customer needs, otherwise it would be counterproductive to be open. So, would that mean allowing only a few employees the day off so that a complete staff would be present? In many companies that would cause far more frustration and inconvenience than it would relieve.

  17. Kearns
    Kearns says:

    At a previous job we had the “floating holidays” deal. There were just a few holidays that everyone had off (Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years) and that was because under a certain number of employees it wasn’t cost effective to keep the office open. It had nothing to do with the owner’s Jewish faith…

  18. Jonathan
    Jonathan says:

    Penelope anytime you want to move to Israel let us know. If you just want to visit too :-) We would welcome you with open arms.

    Of course that pesky Bethlehem town and Nazareth sort of put a seasonal damper on things and we have all those darn pilgrims romping around Jerusalem trying to remind us that Christians actually should own the place (“go Crusaders!”).

    Seriously though, good for you for speaking up and speaking your mind as usual.

    The point of vacation time to me when I was a manager was to ensure my workers or me came back refreshed and ready to work again when they needed the time.

    When are employers going to realize that a content employee is a productive one even if they take holiday time according to their needs?

  19. New reader
    New reader says:

    Your comment under #5 was – "I tell you this so that you understand what it's like to be a minority." Not until you open your mouth by exclaiming what you believe is when you become a minority – how about just being born with more pigment in your skin, being sneered at jeered at not being able to get a job to complain whether or not I want a floating holidays – I'm just glad to live in a country where this topic can be debated openly, publicy w/o living in fear and a state of war outside my door, being killed for sharing what you believe – being killed if I was caught blogging – it's crazy – this is America –

    * * * * * * *

    Thank you for bringing up this point of different types of minority status. I think about this issue a lot. Most people think I'm Christian. This means that I "pass" in a lot of instances that people who are minorities because of their skin color do not. I'm sure it's easier to be a minority for religion than a minority for skin color – I see this regularly because my husband is Latino.

    An interesting part of passing for Christian is that I hear a lot of slurrs against Jews I would not otherwise hear.

    – €“Penelope

  20. Tom
    Tom says:

    “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.”

    This is so ridonkulously false, I’m flabbergasted by the false-itude. Perhaps I’m on an island, and this is admittedly anecdotal, but I can name armies of agnostics who GLADLY celebrate Christmas. Not, mind you, in celebration of the birth of Christ, but really as the American Socially Designated Time to Be Nice to One Another (ASDTBNOA).

    Further, I have no idea how you conclude that your desire to work on Christmas yields a lack of acceptance for diverse backgrounds. If HR shuts down your work-on-Christmas request, you’re on to something. Until then…:::confused:::

    You ask: Why do I have to take a personal day for Yom Kippur but no one has to take a personal day for Christmas?
    I answer: Three reasons. Most companies are too small to not offer a standard day off for Christmas, or they’re large and simply behind the times. The second reason is that 90% of the American workforce celebrates Christmas, and therefore expects the day off; that’s too large of a segment of the workforce for a recruiting department to ignore. Third, Yom Kippur celebrators are in the 10%.

    You have a bad attitude.

    Work doesn’t tell you when to take a day off. The free market for holidays tells you that, of which you are one voter and not it’s authority. You don’t have to celebrate Christmas, and no one should stop you from working on Christmas. I’m not going to suggest do what the Romans do; I will suggest though, that when in Rome, at least quit your bitching about what the Romans do.

    Point 5…I gotta say I’m with you.

  21. Brent Logan
    Brent Logan says:

    Thanks for writing this. It’s interesting to hear another perspective, certainly over behavior that most of us would not consider offensive.

    My complaint is your business justification: “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.” Do you really believe that a business that advertises it doesn’t give its employees Christmas off is going to experience a business uptick? I don’t see it happening. I would suspect just the opposite would happen. For evidence of this, remember what happened when some companies banned the Salvation Army bell ringers outside their entrances.

    As an employee, I would prefer to have my holidays just rolled into my vacation time, too.

  22. Edward David
    Edward David says:

    Unfortunately, it is people like you who end up messing it up for people that celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. Santa Clause and the tree and gifts are all pagan in there background. Christmas was to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. He will be the one you stand before when you die. It does not matter if you believe in him or not. The fact of the matter is you will be standing before himon judgement day.
    I just hope when that happens you remember this and then you can be as wishy washy as you want about Christmas.

  23. Kat
    Kat says:

    I’m an Eastern Orthodox Christian so I celebrate Christmas on the 7th January (according to the calender used by most of the world today, known as the Gregorian calendar), which is the 25th December according to the Julian Calender (it’s about 2 weeks out due to a disagreement regarding leap years). Hopefully that makes sense, if not Google it.

    So I have to explain the whole church-calender history every time people ask why I’m taking that day off.

    Once everyone’s finished their Christmas I still have another 2 weeks to wait. Although, we tend to just celebrate Christmas twice, as it’s the meaning that’s most important rather than the day itself.

  24. Jessica
    Jessica says:

    Penelope- you’re self employed, no one makes you take the day off on Christmas. In fact, no one can make you work on Yom Kippur either.
    I’m not black, but I don’t complain about getting MLK Day off. I respect the reason for the holiday, and it’s nice to have a day off to relax. I agree that floating days off would be more fair, but the world isn’t fair. My organization is closed on all national holidays; it wouldn’t make sense for people to come to work.
    Why not take a moment to stop and smell the roses? Did you ever notice that the cold winter seems warmer with the lights up and Christmas trees in the building lobbys? That warmth is about being good to one another, and I’m pretty sure that is valued in every religion.

  25. Steven
    Steven says:

    As for the anti-holiday flare, couldn’t you have posted this in, I don’t know, let’s say July or something Penelope. It just comes across as mean spirited.

    I don’t sit a bunch of little kids down around Christmas time and tell them that Santa doesn’t exist. It’s just not nice. Timing separates the thoughtful from the thoughtless…

  26. Benjamin Strong
    Benjamin Strong says:

    Goodness gracious. Isn't Penelope entitled to her opinion? I am not offended. I prefer to keep the religious aspects of Christmas out of my office.

    It's funny. I work for the Federal government. According to the Hatch act I can't even have a calendar from the Democratic National Committee or the Republican National Committee. I cannot endorse a particular candidate or political party in the office. Perhaps the workplace needs to adopt a philosophy similar to the Hatch act.

    Reading all these posts I am amazed at the venom. People, get over it. Many of your coworkers feel much the same as Ms. Trunk but won't tell you.

    Perhaps we, as a working culture, should focus more on holidays like Thanksgiving and Labor Day. Maybe floating holidays would better serve the workforce and people's individual preferences.

    Considering the current state of affairs in American I am surprised more people aren't this vocal about Veteran's and Memorial Day.

    Thank you for sharing your opinion Penelope. I am glad we live in a place you can openly share it.

  27. Priyanka
    Priyanka says:

    Thanks for writing this post. While I can’t say that I mind the day off, the truth is celebrating Christmas in the workplace has always been awkward for me, who does not celebrate. I have either faced discomfort and disbelief from coworkers for joining in on meaningless traditions like “Secret Santa” or been chastised for not getting celebrating and joining in on the spirit. These people always overlook the fact that don’t join in on my religious holidays.

  28. Chloe
    Chloe says:

    Caitlin, we don’t have Thanksgiving in Australia (or the UK) because it’s a holiday that celebrates a moment in American history. And we get other holidays – for example, I’m pretty sure in America they don’t have a day off for the Queen’s birthday. Or for a horse race, for that matter, as we do in Melbourne.

  29. Patricia
    Patricia says:

    Christmas has become a north american tradition. I have friends who are muslim and they buy each other xmas gifts.I have friends who live in the United Arab Emerates who “pretend fast” during Ramadan out of respect of the culture of that country. I think we worry too much about being politically correct. If we think about xmas traditions that we have here a lot of them are “not” christmas symbols: christmas trees, mistletoe, wreaths, wassal bowls, yuletide…originate from pagan traditions. Santa Claus is the amalgamation of St.Nicholas/Jack Frost/Old Man Winter/Father Christmas/Odin (he had a flying chariot with an 8-legged horse… sound familiar?). I think that christmas is more than a christian holiday but a wealth of european traditions that have survived until modern times.

  30. Your Silent Jewish Coworker Who Is Thinking the Same Thing
    Your Silent Jewish Coworker Who Is Thinking the Same Thing says:

    “Reading all these posts I am amazed at the venom. People, get over it. Many of your coworkers feel much the same as Ms. Trunk but won't tell you.”

    Right on, Benjamin!

    I got tired of being considered a bitchy Jew, so I stopped complaining about Christmas. Even when the state agency I work for scheduled last year’s “holiday” party for the exact moment that Hanukkah started. Sigh.

    Personally, I like having the last week of the year off. But I’d never imagined floating holidays instead. In that case, I’d probably choose summer and go camping with my family.

    Kudos, Penelope. And thanks for taking the flack for us quiet ones.

  31. Tim
    Tim says:

    You said in a post a couple weeks’ back that a quick personality test pegged you as an “Energizer.”

    Let’s look at your last few posts: My marriage is a train wreck, peak oil will kill us all, and Christians are shoving Christmas down our throats.

    I feel more energized already!

  32. Dave
    Dave says:

    Actually, the U.S. Supreme Court has stated that, legally speaking anyway, Christmas ISN’T a religious holiday! I can see your point of view, but I think you are in the minority view in this one.

  33. Mauri
    Mauri says:

    Penelope.

    I wont comment on the whole Christmas debate, but I feel this is not a very helpful post.

    I would rather have a post on how to leverage office christmas parties to clink glasses with people you are too afraid to talk to on a day to day bases.

    Two years ago, I was introduced to a senior director at my mega company. I got to talk to him on a more personal level. Where else would you be able to munch on finger foods, have your one glass of wine and talk about your kids to people of senior senior level.

    The outcome of my story is that I received a new mentor, a backing for a promotion, access to a VP and an opportunity to some new and interesting work.

    Lets move away from the holiday debate and focus on the good that christmas gives us: fundraisers at the office, volunteer work with coworkers and christmas networking events.

  34. Reine
    Reine says:

    I’m not Christian. I don’t feel at all alienated by Christmas. Christmas is something different than a religious holiday nowadays, IMHO. Christmas is what you make of it. You complain about people forcing Christmas on you, while you are busy trying to force your preferences and perspective on others to make them comply with the day the way *you* want it to be. Live and let live. If you don’t like it, turn down the party invitations, shut your mouth, smile politely and go work instead.

  35. Rubén Tosilla
    Rubén Tosilla says:

    I understand you perfectly!!!
    I had the same experience in Jerusalem every friday evening and saturday…”put the lamp by the window”.”don’t do anything”..”eat kosher”, “bla bla bla”, and nobody listened to my suggestion of celebrating the robo-hannukah that Futurama featured!!! a shame, a real shame

    shalom haberim

    (by the way…how many jews are in the world? 30? 40 million?…with those numbers, there should be religions with larger holidays calenders: Credit Card Veneration, Maccabi Basket Fan day, etc….)

  36. Michael
    Michael says:

    Penelope –

    One of the reasons I subscribe is because I often don’t like or agree with what you say. I subscribe because you cause me to think and consider more about what you write.

    As a Jew turned Christian, and pastor, (yes, my parents were not thrilled), I agree in part with you. Sadly, Christmas is no longer a Christian time to celebrate the birth of Jesus (no matter when He was really born). It has become a holiday which has crossed all types of boundaries. It is a religious holiday that has become secularized. Shame on the Christians for allowing that to happen.

    Maybe part of the issue is all about control. Who controls the workplace, who controls our time, who ultimately controls me.

    Last night my boys looked at the calendar and I explained Kwanza and Chanukah. Anyway, have a good day, simply put,

    have joy, no matter what the season. Because joy comes from within.

    * * * * * * *

    Hi, Michale. Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I like what you say about control. I think there is someting to that — because you’re right that this isn’t about joy becuase it comes from within. So what else could it be about? Hm. Interesting.

    Penelope

  37. Chris Rash
    Chris Rash 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”

    Penelope, hate to break it to you but Thanksgiving IS a religious holiday. It was set a side by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 (in the midst of a Civil War) as a “day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” Sounds overtly religious to me.

    Also, it makes me sad to hear that you have been approached by Christians saying that Christmas is not a Christian Holiday. It most certainly is. I respect your right not to celebrate Christmas and if you do not want to participate in the festivities don’t.

    By why are you being so in sensitive to the religious beliefs of those around you?

    * * * * * * * * *

    The comments section of the post has turned out to be such a good history lesson. I didn’t know this about Thanksgiving. I’m not sure if I think it changes what I think, but it *is* interesting in terms of how ingrained Chritianity is in our calendar. Thanks. I am thinking more…

    –Penelope

  38. Scott
    Scott says:

    Come on Penelope, Christmas has been celebrated for thousands of years. The people who do not like christmas can call it Xmas. Enjoy your gifts,
    suggest gift cards, enjoy your day off, hopefully it is paid, and move on with your life. Work retail if you really want to work that day, I think K-mart is open for 8 hours. Do not screw this holiday up for the rest of us. Political correctness can only go so far.

  39. Fred
    Fred says:

    Lots of informed and interesting comments on here. However, saying because the Supreme Court legislated Christmas as a non-religious holidy so it is no longer a religious holiday is ridiculous.

    I guess at that moment, the Vatican and all the leaders of other christian movements took Christ out of the bible and stopped the practices of Christmas, Easter, Holy Water, Ash Wednesday and all other ceremonial aspects of the holiday, even though the basis for Christianity was to get all the benefits of Judaism getting rid of all the ritual and ceremonial parts of Judaism (mostly getting rid of circumcision, keeping kosher and having to pray 3 times daily and keeping Sabbath).

    Oh. Wait. That did not happen. I guess it is a religious holiday afterall, despite what the Supreme Court said. Oh yeah. News Flash. What the Supreme Court ruled wayyyyy back then is not binding on THE REST OF THE WORLD, not that you are Americancentric in your views or anything. Come on you Christmas celebrators. You won’t mind doing all the Ramadan fasts or the Yom Kippur fasts or eating kosher for other people? Aren’t you diverse? How does the logic of majority rules overiding respect for the diversity work?

    Yes, diversity is great for the workplace. However, diversity (ie, being different) is also a major cause of derision. Think, say, why do we have wars and race wars?

    Perhaps you should listen to mms://stream.simpletoremember.com/simpletoremember/misc/Real-Story-of-X-mas-and-New-Years.mp3

    Learn your roots before you start lambasting others as

  40. Daniel B
    Daniel B says:

    This is just one point of view. The author is expressing the feelings within the framework of her surroundings.

  41. David H.
    David H. says:

    This post makes me want to puke. Get over it. We aren’t a “Christian country” but we are a country made up with a Christian majority. For you to suggest that the most important holiday for most Christians (and thus most of the nation) should not be celebrated and we should shackle the Christmas holiday is ludicrous.

    Add in that the only reason this post is half “career-related” is because you sprinkle in that you want your “floating holidays” and this post shines as nothing other than your “Declaration of Victimhood.” Sick.

    • akamarkman
      akamarkman says:

      Just wanted to point out that the USA does not have a Christian majority if you actually break apart each sect and consider them separate entities. From what I understand this notion of “unified” Christianity was a political invention and propaganda tool of the late 20th century used to gain votes.

      Also, I encourage you to read this wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argumentum_ad_populum

  42. Danny
    Danny says:

    Oh, come on Penelope!!!! It’s great to have one time of year that has turned into a “Holiday Season” when you can get together with your family. I don’t care if I’m Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, or Atheist… I still like time off with my crazy family of different religious beliefs. In this case, Christianity won out and gets to place their name on the holiday. Bottom Line? Who cares, if you are really honest with yourself, you will acknowledge that every organized religion is somewhat silly.

    Come on… Noa’s Arc? You really think all species were were on a boat of a guy that new a pissed off God was going to flood the planet. Adam and Eve? A cute story but what about the next generation, can you say Alabama? Buddhism? A guy found enlightenment after sitting on his ass for days thinking about nothing, sounds like my brother’s standard work week and he is by no means, enlightened.

    To this day we still have war because others don’t believe what we believe. I say again, Who Cares!!!!!!! We are all living in a cave believing what we were thought by our parents and grand parents because we don’t have the heart to say they were sometimes stupid. You know, those people that you think were crazy for having a work ethic that said I need to work harder than anyone else and move up the ladder? Yea those silly people. So, to illustrate the fact we are living in a cave when it comes to religious beliefs, I turn to the father of modern thought, Socrates and one of his parables… This is a clip from the “allagory of the cave.” If you don’t read on, have a nice holiday season and enjoy the time you get to spend with your friends and family.

    It is difficult to explain why people like what they like. It is even more difficult to determine what is real and what is not real. To that, I will defer to (Socrates).

    Next said I, here is a parable to illustrate the degrees in which our nature may be enlightened or unenlightened. Imagine the condition of men living in a sort of cavernous chamber underground, with an entrance open to the light and a long passage all down the cave. Here they have been from childhood, chained by the leg and also by the neck, so that they cannot move and can see only what is in front of them, because the chains will not let them turn their heads. At some distance higher up is the light of a fire burning behind them; and between the prisoners and the fire is a track with a parapet built along it, like the screen at puppet-show, which hides the performers while they show their puppets over the top. I see, said he. Now behind this parapet imagine persons carrying along various artificial objects, including figures of men and animals in wood or stone or other materials, which project above the parapet. Naturally, some of these persons will be talking, others silent. It is a strange picture, he said, and a strange sort of prisoners. Like ourselves, I replied; for in the first place prisoners so confined would have seen nothing of themselves or of one another, except the shadows thrown by the fire-light on the wall of the cave facing them, would they? Not if all their lives they had been prevented from moving their heads. And they would have seen as little of the objects carried past. Of course. Now, if they could talk to one another, would they not suppose that their words referred only to those passing shadows which they saw?

    Probably not the original idea or intent of the allegory but, my point here is this. Decide for yourself what you like and what you don’t like. Decide for yourself what is real and what is not real. Do not depend on others to do this thinking for you. Are you living by what you believe in and is that real? Or are you living by ideas (shadows) cast upon you by others since the day you were born all in the name of “Religion.”

  43. Sherry Tomac
    Sherry Tomac says:

    Penelope, I hope this article was harshly written to evoke responses, otherwise it seems your heart is truly bitter and angry about this subject.
    From a business perspective, I agree that personal days should be available to all to use as they see fit for holidays such as Christmas, Yom Kippur, or whatever. This is a simple and fair solution and I’m surprised that more companies don’t use it. Perhaps this will change over time.
    As for myself, I am a Christian and I celebrate Christmas because it represents Jesus’ birth, whether it is a holiday of my employer or not.
    It is a time spent with family and friends to celebrate the hope that we believe Jesus brings. Is it too commercialized? Yes, sad to say, it has certainly become a vehicle for spending money that it was never intended to become.
    However, I wish you and all your readers a Merry Christmas for the hope in this life and the next that I believe it represents.

  44. Simona
    Simona says:

    Thank you so very much for addressing this issue in your blog today.

    You can’t imagine what a relief it is to read your article and thoughts.

    This is my first Hanukkah at the company I now work for and it has been challenging as many individuals do not seem to acknowledge that there is anything but Christmas, or Christian holidays for that fact.

    I wish you the happiest of all Hanukkahs and hope that you enjoy light your menorah tonight.

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