My long-time readers are aware that Valentine’s Day is my least favorite of all holidays. It’s merely a Hallmark holiday and a cash grab that makes people in a committed relationship feel obligated to spend money on dying flowers and helps people not in a relationship feel depressed.
Still, I couldn’t help but sit up and take notice when I saw a story in the Star Tribune last week about an elementary school in St. Paul eliminating the celebration of holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Halloween. The principal there said that they only want to celebrate holidays that are “inclusive of our student population.” To be fair, that particular school is largely made up of minority students, with only 4% white students.
Does that mean people of other races don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day? I find that hard to believe. I may not like the holiday, but it was always something to look forward to in elementary school. Who really cared about the cheap cards? We wanted the candy that went with them! Is that a good reason for keeping these celebrations in schools? No, of course not. The better reason is to occasionally have the kids lift their heads from their studies and find ways to have fun.
I do understand some religious concerns with holidays like Halloween. Even Christmas, in a school that is largely dominated by an Asian population (52%) as that one is, might not be a holiday that is celebrated by a majority. It’s difficult if your family opposes recognition of those events and your child sits out of activities that all the other children participate in.
Teaching and living in a school district that is largely white and mostly Christian is a different ball of wax. I still call it Christmas break every year. I attend Christmas concerts where we often get to hear variations on Christian Christmas songs. It warms my heart that we continue this; I still remember Mark Rud leading the choir in “The Hallelujah Chorus” every year.
Have we become too politically correct in this country? The easy answer is yes; so many people are constantly worried about offending others that they edit everything they say. (Clearly, this columnist does not fall in that category!) I saw a meme a month or so ago that proclaimed the past year of 2015 as the year everyone was offended by something. Too true.
Upon deeper reading into the original article, I found out the St. Paul school district discourages “lavish programs and festivities, and shall strive to eliminate them,” except for mandated holidays such as Martin Luther King Day, Veterans Day, and the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln. Those are important days to recognize and celebrate, but what happens when politically correct mavens remove the fun celebrations?
Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan schools have even eliminated birthday celebrations. Their reason? Some kids can’t afford to bring in treats for everyone and thus feel left out. Remember the good old days when Mom would make some homemade goodies for you to bring in to school on your special day? With a birthday early in the school year, I always felt like I set the bar high with the sweet stuff my mom would make, always excellent. Now I have to buy Little Debbie Cosmic Brownies because we can’t trust folks not to poison all our students. Food allergies are always given as another reason, but I suspect one reason we have more of those than ever is the amount of processed food we shove down our gullets instead of making more from scratch.
I can see no problem with changing Halloween to some kind of harvest/fall celebration. But I think it’s important to retain a recognition of Thanksgiving as a holiday. That’s not just because it’s my favorite, but because it’s part of our country’s history. If we’re going to stop celebrating Christmas in schools, we might as well remove the “In God We Trust” slogan from our currency. The United States has freedom of religion, sure, but it is a country founded on Christian principles, and we should continue to note that in school.
And Valentine’s Day? Well, my kids will be out of elementary school after this year, so I don’t really care. But I do know it’s a fun day for kids, and sometimes education needs more chances to have fun, even for an hour on the most over-rated holiday of them all.
Speaking of kids, a happy golden birthday to Anton this week! He’s waiting for his letter from Hogwarts since he plans on attending this fall, now that he’s finally old enough!
Word of the Week: This week’s word is unco, which has many meanings, including news, as in, “The parents were astounded at the unco that holiday celebrations would no longer occur.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!