The holidays are a minefield for those who champion political correctness. While many Americans celebrate for religious reasons, others simple revel in the secular traditions. Separating the sacred from the festivities, as one elementary school principal has figured out, isn’t always easy.
The principal, from Manchester Elementary School in Nebraska, reportedly instructed teachers at the school to avoid decorating with “Christmas-themed ornamentations so as not to offend those who don’t celebrate the holiday.”
Jennifer Sinclair sent a memo to her teachers and asked for more seasonal imagery, or things that symbolize cold and winter. Sledding was fine. Scarves are acceptable. Even the Disney movie “Frozen” was fair game.
Religious symbolism, though, was not welcomed. “Decorations that included Santa, Christmas trees, reindeer, green and red colored items and even candy canes, however, were not acceptable for the elementary school,” Fox notes.
Candy canes? The addition of the minty confection took many by surprise. Sinclair sees the candy cane as a “J” which is meant to reference Jesus.
“Historically, the shape is a ‘J’ for Jesus. The red is for the blood of Christ, and the white is a symbol of his resurrection,” she wrote in the memo. “This would also include different colored candy canes.”
“I feel uncomfortable that I have to get this specific, but for everyone’s comfort, I will,” Sinclair added.
The claim, as you might imagine, is far from true. Snopes has debunked it many times, concluding “The strongest connection one might make between the origins of the candy cane and any intentional Christian association is to guess that possibly some unknown person, at some indefinite time, took a long-existing form of sweet (i.e., straight white sticks of sugar candy) that was already associated with Christmas and produced bent versions of it to represent a shepherd’s crook and/or make it easier to hang on Christmas trees, but even that general association is nothing more than mere supposition with no supporting evidence behind it.”
The Elkhorn School District was less than pleased by the memo, and suspended the principal. “The memo does not reflect the policy of Elkhorn Public Schools regarding holiday symbols in the school.”
The district’s policy states that “Christmas trees, Santa Claus and Easter eggs and bunnies are considered to be secular, seasonal symbols and may be displayed as teaching aids provided they do not disrupt the instructional program for students.”