Friday, November 14, 2014

Unnamed Holiday, Holidays

What is in a name?

It seems quite a bit. Montgomery County, Maryland, has decided to omit the religious names of observances from the calendar.

So let me get this straight--if I don't call it Yom Kippur or Easter, but there is still a day off it makes it all better?

CNN reports it this way:

(CNN) -- Starting next year, the names of religious holidays like Christmas and Yom Kippur will no longer appear on the school calendar in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Instead of Christmas break, students will have winter break. And when Yom Kippur rolls around, the calendar will simply state that there will be no school.

I'm caught up in the old idea that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. A holiday, although unnamed, is still an observance!

This sounds really petty--and all because another special interest group wanted to add another holiday to the school calendar.

I sat on the Howard County, Maryland, School Calendar committee planning the 2014 calendar and I have some observations.

First and foremost--Christmas needs to be excluded from the discussion of religious holidays with respect to school calendars. Why? Christmas is a federal holiday unlike all of the rest of the days being considered. So it is truly acceptable to say Merry Christmas and not worry about it being construed as a religious event.

Second--everybody should have seen that this situation was going to be coming soon. There are enough teacher work days built into the schedule to be able to move them around to accommodate the "religious" holidays if the school districts really wanted to account for them. 

Third--at least in Maryland, not all of the federal holidays are observed by the schools. 

Finally, the calendars in the school systems are built around the last day of school. Anything is negotiable as long as the last day of school is not too late during June. With some creative work everyone's wishes could be accommodated.

I think the final paragraph from the CNN article really sums it up:

"They're trying to be politically correct so they don't offend anybody," he said. "But let's be real here; they're going to offend a few people. People always get offended."
It is not that hard. If we, as a society, are going to be inclusive--as we say we want to be, then we need to act that way. Taking the religious names off the calendar doesn't change the fact of the observance, it only obscures it.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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