Should Christmas Dominate Winter Decorations at Heritage?

Zachary Welker, Assistant Editor

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 The Heritage Campus has once again put on another outfit; this time it just happened to be a warm, winter sweater. ASB  has done a wonderful job encouraging a festive winter theme through and through. There are decorations everywhere from the cafetera to classroom doors to the gym.

  “We decorated the campus this winter for the Gift of Giving Spirit Week, held for the Sonoma County and Santa Rosa fire victims,” proudly said Alec Ortega (12), Heritage’s ASB president.

  There’s always joy around this time of year, but also one huge question for those who analyze the decorations: Does Heritage Only Celebrate Christmas?

  Simply put, no. Public schools, such as Heritage, are not allowed to promote any religion, including religious holidays, according to the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution. After all, teachers can teach about religion but not preach religion. It’s all for respect of different religions and beliefs.

  “The only guideline that the ASB class follows, as of this year: no specific holiday decorations unless there’s an equal amount of holiday decorations for all of the holidays that are relevant at the time,” commented Ortega when talking about how decorations were decided, “Heritage did well following through with this.”

  All around campus there are mainly winter decorations, everything from snowflakes to snowballs. A hint of the holidays, such as a decorated evergreen tree on poster, may be seen if one looks hard enough. Of all areas on campus, the gym’s winter rally decorations seem to hint the most at celebrating Christmas.

  “In reality, we do decorate for religious based holidays. Despite decorating with ‘winter’ language. Pictures, advertisements, et cetera perpetuate Christmas,” said Chris Wheeler (12), ASB’s spirit commissioner.

  Ortega countered this thought.

  “The ASB class in the past, just like all American high schools, would normally create Christmas decorations and put on a Christmas themed Winter Rally during the month of December,” said Ortega. “Since Heritage is a diverse school, we don’t see any favoritism to any of the decorations put up.”

  To many, however, Christmas isn’t religious-based as it is claimed.

  “I think that secular Christmas really stunts as a consumer holiday for a capitalist culture,” said Wheeler.

  “I believe it to more commercial. I’m not religious and neither is my family but we still celebrate it,” said Nick Young (12).

  Christmas, as a holiday, really is a modern convergence of several ancinet celebrations. Most remembered is from the Christian celebration for the birth of their savior; however, the specific winter date arrives from the Roman pagan mid-winter celebration: Saturnalia.

  It may not really matter what a holiday’s celebration means, except that it means something for the students. The idea of stripping away celebration of any-kind, except for government holidays, such as Columbus Day and Veteran’s Day, is also not liked by the student population.

  “I think the whole point of Heritage’s diversity is showing our independence. And if we’re only celebrating, or decorating, government-regulated holidays, then I think that takes away from the whole point of our students having a voice,” said Ortega. Wheeler and Young also disapprove of this notion.

  Students agree that Christmas should be celebrated, whether it’s a religious holiday, a cultural holiday or a mix of both.

  “I think more people tend to celebrate Christmas and that undermines the other holiday practice during this time of year,” said Young.

  In the United States, the majority of people do celebrate Christmas. According to a poll by the Pew Research Center, 92% of Americans celebrate Christmas, religious or not. The report also found that the holiday crosses religious borders. 32% of U.S. Jews, 76% of Buddhists and 87% of those who don’t identify with a religion celebrate Christmas.

  There really appears to be no reason there can’t be Christmas decorations at schools. Ortega even talked about how he wasn’t aware of students having an issues with any of the school decorations ASB has put up.

  That is the beauty of Heritage. Students, subconsciously or consciously, love to embrace diversity and like to be immersed in cultures other than their own. Yes, Christmas decorations should be allowed in schools; but alongside decorations for Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yuletide, and, even, Festivus for the rest of us.

  No matter what you celebrate, Happy Holidays, Patriots.