Most Baby Boomers will remember exchanging candy canes and Christmas cards with other children at school when they were younger or participating in festive-themed activities in the lead up to Christmas. For many students, it was the highlight of the year and was also a much-needed break from regular classes.
A school principal in the United States has made headlines after banning the festive treat and other symbols of Christmas from her school, noting they don’t align with the school district’s policies on holiday symbols.
According to USA Today, the principal of Manchester Elementary School – located near Omaha in the US state of Nebraska – sent staff a memo on ways they could remain inclusive and culturally sensitive during the Christmas season at school.
The memo explained that staff had become confused about what was and wasn’t acceptable and that all students needed to feel included – no matter what their religion, culture or belief.
The memo said the role of teachers is to educate, rather than provide activities should not promote or inhabit the free exercise of religion and speech.
“I feel uncomfortable that I have to get this specific, but for everyone’s comfort, I will,” the principal wrote.
“The red is for the blood of Christ, and the white is a symbol of his resurrection,” the principal said, while saying candy canes of other colours were also not accepted.
Red and green items were banned because they are traditional Christmas colours, while Christmas trees, Santa, carols, Christmas music, Elf on the Shelf and even books about Christmas were not welcome. Even making Christmas decorations was banned because, as the principal highlighted, “this assumes that the family has a Christmas tree which assumes they celebrate Christmas.”
Having said that, there were a number of things she deemed acceptable. These included scarves, boots, earmuffs, hats, hot chocolates, sledding, gingerbread and snow people, as well as gifts for students and students making gifts for loved ones. Even the snowman Olaf from Disney animated film Frozen was considered acceptable.
The principal added that she knew teachers who had prepared festive activities for their students were coming from a good place, but encouraged them to ask themselves if the item or activity promoted a certain belief or religion. She even signed off her memo as “The (Unintentional) Grinch who stole Christmas”.
“As of this morning, Principal Sinclair has been placed on administrative leave,” a statement from lkhorn Public Schools to Fox42 read. “Due to the fact that this is an ongoing personnel issue, the District cannot comment further.”
It’s not the first time a religious holiday has been banned. Earlier this year in Australia, a church was forced to remove the word “Jesus” from an advertisement, with a property company claiming it was offensive to non-Christians.
The digital signs displayed around the local shopping centre featured the phrase, “Jesus is alive” and were intended to promote an Easter Festival.