Christmas culture in Portland

Op Ed by David Krogh

Christmas has different meanings to different people.  To devout Christians, it identifies a celebration of the birth of Christ. To non-Christians and to many others it refers to a time of shopping, holiday decorations, presents and Santa Claus.

To most, it is also a time for giving, especially to those less fortunate, and, a time for peace.

Interestingly enough, there are those who don’t like the word at all and who advocate Christmas being referred to as a generic holiday in December.

They don’t suggest that Hanukkah be renamed. Nor do they call for a change to Ramadan or Kwanzaa. However, the word Christmas has often in recent years come under extreme pressure in Portland.  Why is this?  Because Portland’s demographics and culture are changing.

According to CNN and The Atlantic, Portland is already known as the whitest major city in the US with roughly 77% of the population white.

In addition, according to The Oregonian (based on information from the PEW Research Center), Portland metro area is the most religiously unaffiliated metropolitan area in the United States, with 42% of residents identifying as atheist, agnostic or no religion in particular.

Seattle and San Francisco come in at second with 33% while the national average is 17% unaffiliated per Gallop.

Of note, the US capitol has a National Christmas Tree.  Salem has the Oregon State Christmas Tree. While in Portland we have the Stimson Lumber Tree.

On the Pioneer Courthouse Square website there is no mention of Christmas Tree or even Holiday Tree, only the tree lighting ceremony with a tree donated by the Stimson Lumber Company.

In the spirit of political correctness, Portland evidently just has a tree. Funny thing is, the Stimson Lumber tree has an awful lot of Christmas decorations on it and a whole lot of Christmas songs are sung at the tree lighting ceremony.

So, can anyone with the City which owns Pioneer Courthouse Square explain this apparent contradiction?  (Probably not.)

The downplay of a Christmas theme is easily observed when one looks at the descriptions for the many advertisements for events and shopping leading up to Christmas.

How many churches and other organizations no longer hold Christmas Bazaars and have switched the names to Holiday Bazaar or Harvest Festival or Craft Fair or Holiday Sale or Black Friday?

I’m offended that there are those who want to change Christmas into a generic holiday; one size fits all.  Why can’t we just respect each other’s beliefs and cultural practices and tolerate (or even celebrate) the differences?

If you celebrate Christmas, why should it matter if you say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” to someone. After all, there are a lot of holidays and other activities going on at this time of year, regardless of one’s religious persuasion or philosophy.

In respect for the beliefs of all, can we just leave the word Christmas alone and let everyone interpret it as they prefer? I’m perfectly happy with the names other religions and cultures use.  Let them stay as they are.

After all, and in the words of Tiny Tim, “God bless us everyone!”

Christmas culture in Portland

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