Most elementary school children have advent time during December, and I worked for a school in Telemark county seven years ago that did this in connection with a Friday tradition they had the whole year. This was a relatively small school with 160 pupils from 1-10th grade, and as the principal was also one of the driving forces behind a lot of the cultural activities in the municipality, he used singing as a way to bring everyone together.
Fridays always started with the whole school forming a choir. We sang two songs, and the principal also used the opportunity to give some general information. Unfortunately the tradition ended when some of the teachers complained about the religious content in some of the songs. I’ve never seen our Christmas and folk songs as a problem, but it’s hard to find one that doesn’t include at least one word from our Christian tradition. This seems to be a growing problem after Parliament supposedly abolished state religion a couple of years ago. A school in Stavanger got national attention a week ago because they had removed certain words from the carols that referred to Christmas, even words like nisse (a mythological creature, a sort of elf, which is associated with Christmas), Santa Claus, and Christmas. There were songs the children were only allowed to hum because they were considered to be too christmassy.
I don’t understand why it’s always the atheist going crazy. We have a substantial Muslim minority now, and there might be some that would prefer to live in a country without this Christian holiday, but I haven’t heard anyone express this. I heard an interview on the radio this morning with a woman who had a tradition of celebrating Christmas. She was Jewish, which meant that Jesus wasn’t a part of the festival, but apart from that Christmas isn’t more than a celebration of the sun. Incidentally, today is the darkest day of the year, and the return of the sun is a good reason to party.
I am not going to stop singing the traditional songs just because they reflect a thousand years of Christianity in Norway, but I wish the other big religions would speak up against the atheists. There is a very small number of atheists (because most of the declared atheists are agnostic) that don’t have a problem with Christianity, Norwegian culture or Christmas. They have a problem with religion, including Islam and Judaism. When they have finished with Christianity they will choose another opponent, and Islam is the second biggest. I don’t support the war on Christmas-crap that conservative American media like to go on about, but in in a way there is a war. It’s not on Christmas, but on religion in general, which includes paganism.
This seems to be a challenge most groups have. Feminists shouldn’t have any problems supporting civil rights groups, but they do. I think many assume that animal rights activists have a lot in common with environmentalists, but that’s not true. There are autism advocacy organizations that want totally different things. There is a difference between neurotypical parents that have autistic children, and parents that have autism. Raising autistic children is a challenge, but it’s harder if you have autism yourself.
Incidentally, many wrongly believe that Xmas is a modern attempt to remove the holiday from its religious roots, but according to Merriam Webster Dictionary, Xmas has been known in the English language since 1551, and in Greek for almost a thousand years. X is a symbol for Christ from the Greek letter X (chi), and is the first letter in the word Christos. So there is no need to put Christ back in Christmas. He never left.