Happy End of the Fiscal Year!
It used to be the "war on Christmas," where it became politically correct to wish that someone be merry on Dec. 25. But now that everyone politely says "Happy holiday" instead, we've got the war on "holiday."
The Texas University for Women says the H-word isn't "inclusive" and "multicultural" enough and has issued a directive telling its departments to quit calling that festive December celebration a "holiday party" and start calling it an "end of semester party" or maybe an "end of fiscal year party."
And please, no more reindeer cookies on the plate or "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire" over the speakers.
“When planning December office parties that coincide with the Christmas season, it is a challenge for event organizers to make celebrations ‘all-inclusive,’” TWU explains in a news release. “Not all faith traditions have holidays in December, and not everyone identifies with a particular faith tradition.”
The release, titled "The Festivus for the Rest of Us," according to Campus Reform, includes tips from Mark Kessler, a professor of women's multicultural and gender studies at TWU (yes, there actually is such a department, where Kessler teaches such courses as "Transdisciplinary Feminist Research Methods").
First, he says, party planners should avoid using the word “holiday,” even though it’s often been touted as a safe alternative to “Christmas,” because it “connotes religious tradition and may not apply to all employees.”
Instead, parties scheduled for December should be called “end of semester” parties, or for business-oriented offices, “end of fiscal year” parties.
In addition to inclusive nomenclature, Kessler suggests avoiding any “religious symbolism, such as images of Santa Claus, evergreen trees, or red-nosed reindeer." Snowflakes and snowmen, however, are good alternatives for party decorations or invitations.
Party planners, the prof. says, also have to be cautious of pesky holiday references sneaking into party treats, such as “red and green sugar cookies shaped like Christmas trees.”
In order to be multicultural, “don’t forget to consider menu items that reflect dietary preferences and requirements of non-majority groups in your organization (e.g., halal or kosher).”
Finally, a diverse party planning board can help avoid anything that becomes too Christmas-centric, so those in charge of parties have to employ the help of “non-Christian employees of Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, and other religions, as well as non-believers.”
I thought we were supposed to pretend religion doesn't exist at all during the planning of this party. Halal and kosher are dietary restrictions that pertain to certain religious groups. Aren't we suddenly violating the strictly secular nature of our party? Why must we put kosher items on the menu, but leave off Christmas cookies?
Come to think of it, our multicultural holiday party no longer feels very all-inclusive. It actually seems targeted to include certain religious groups and dis-include others.
This thought apparently occurred to administrators at TWU, who quietly removed the "Festivus" directive, and issued this press release instead:
[W]e would like to assure everyone that Texas Woman’s University believes all people should be able to enjoy and celebrate Christmas and all other religious traditions.
Well, that's a relief. Happy holiday!