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Poll - holiday parties at work


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

1. Do you work in the public or private sector?

2. Do you have any holiday parties at work? During the work day, or outside work hours?

3. Is this year different than the usual?

4. Is the party Christmas-specific, or multi-winter-holiday? (Decorations, music, etc.)

Just curious. I work in a public school, every year we have a mandatory faculty meeting with Christmas music, a Christmas tree, and then a big lunch. And no one understands why I think it's wrong.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post:
WATERMELLEN 12/27/2009 2:59PM

    1. private
2. no (used to have evening or lunch party: stopped them some years ago)
3. no
4. n/a -- (office used to be decorated with "non-religious" Christmas tree etc., no manger scene: But stopped this some years ago given our clientele is ethnically diverse. It no longer seemed appropriate if it ever was . . . ).

I checked back to see what kind of response you got to your poll, PHEBESS!

I used to work in a public college teaching art history -- and when there, answers to 2 and 4 would have been "yes" and "Christmas specific". But: that's more than 20 years ago!
I can recall 40 years ago as a high school student with a close Jewish friend her profound discomfort in being required to attend overtly religious Easter assemblies at which a minister was invited to lead the students in prayer! Unthinkable now surely. I can recall in public school on Mondays some 50 years ago that the "good children" who had attended Sunday School the previous day were permitted to put up their felt figures on the "go to church" feltboard at the back of the room!

But these events qualify as ancient history and Canada prides itself on tolerance for cultural diversity -- which does not necessarily mean eliminating symbols of Christian celebrations I suppose but rather including them among other celebratory symbols as you tried to do -- meeting with a very unsettling response.

At this point there clearly needs to be acknowledgement of multicultural diversity in public spaces.

You are clearly proud of your Jewish traditions and learning. I worked as the only non-Jewish person in a Jewish children's camp for three years, so have experienced being a "tiny minority" myself -- a salutary experience for anyone. And I enjoy your comments within your blogs and in response to my blogs which open that window for me into Jewish thought. Have followed the recent debate, for example, about the exclusion of reform Jewish women who have wanted to pray at the Wailing Wall and been excluded because it is reserved for ultra-conservative Jewish men . . .

Your workplace situation is causing you a lot of discomfort. I think you are really wondering if your discomfort is "justified" and of course I think it is. The overt and exclusive Christianizing of public space is inappropriate because it's communicating the privileging of one culture over others in a manner that must be disturbing to a number of other faculty and in particular to students.

Despite the disappearing menorah, I'd begin from the charitable assumption that the status quo is unthinking rather than malicious -- which is of course no excuse! I hope you plan to speak up, perhaps first gathering together from within your school well-respected supporters (both Christian and otherwise) for your position.

Why not treat it as an opportunity for education: that's your core business!!

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PHEBESS 12/24/2009 12:43PM

    I brought a small menorah and Chanukah candles for the library last year - and every day, I'd add a candle - but someone stole it. So I didn't set one up this year. But they have a huge Christmas tree, and a small tree for each table. We actually have at least one Jewish student (possibly "Messianic Jewish" which I'm not sure if that really would be Jewish), quite a number of Jehovah's Witness, and also quite a number of Muslim students - and even more Rastafarian students. As well as at least one Buddhist teacher, several Rasta teachers, and me, the token Jewish teacher.

But to date, I'm the ONLY one who ever says anything about this.

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SHORTY20 12/24/2009 10:21AM

    1. Do you work in the public or private sector? - privat

2. Do you have any holiday parties at work? During the work day, or outside work hours? - we have a holiday "food fest." We used to have an outside Christmas party, but stopped that a couple of years ago due to the cost

3. Is this year different than the usual? - nope

4. Is the party Christmas-specific, or multi-winter-holiday? (Decorations, music, etc.) - We never decorate or have music, but it's for Christmas. We are a very small company and everyone there celebrates Christmas.


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MARLENE160 12/24/2009 10:02AM

    1. Do you work in the public or private sector?
I work as a teacher in the New York City public school system.

2. Do you have any holiday parties at work? During the work day, or outside work hours?
We have luncheons inside the school building periodically, everyone contributes and sometimes it catered. Absolutely no alcohol is served. Once a year the teachers and staff book reservations at a hotel for their annual Christmas staff party.

3. Is this year different than the usual?
I didn't notice because I never attend any of the functions.

4. Is the party Christmas-specific, or multi-winter-holiday? (Decorations, music, etc.) Our school office is decorated with seasonal thematic decorations, but the school district and NYC have set aside guidelines for decorating the halls and classrooms during the holiday seasons.

Attending any of the functions is strictly voluntary, If it were not I'd would have been written up a for missing at least a dozen annual parties.
I certainly understand your concerns. If we put up Christmas decorations in our rooms or halls, then we have to also acknowledge the beliefs and traditions of the other student population and staff members.
Just curious. I work in a public school, every year we have a mandatory faculty meeting with Christmas music, a Christmas tree, and then a big lunch. And no one understands why I think it's wrong.
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JLPNURSE 12/24/2009 7:20AM

    1. Do you work in the public or private sector? Semi-public. Non-profit hospital system.

2. Do you have any holiday parties at work? During the work day, or outside work hours? Yes, several. Most during the work hours.

3. Is this year different than the usual? This is my first year so I don't know. In the past, I think there were more outside of work hour ones.

4. Is the party Christmas-specific, or multi-winter-holiday? (Decorations, music, etc.) Sort of a mix. The building I work in (which the hospital system DOES NOT own) was decorated in non-religious Christmas (trees, wreaths, etc.). We had a door decorating contest with a neutral theme (winter wonderland). Our system party had santa and an elf (the CEO and CFO) and a Christmas song karaoke. My other 3 office parties were pot lucks, no themes.

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LSCHULER72 12/24/2009 12:23AM

    I work in a public school also. It's a rather small rural district where "Christmas" is still celebrated!

1. Public

2. In the past we've done both outside of school and at school-this year was after school one afternoon in the cafeteria.

3. This year was different. In the past we've always done Secret Santa gifts with a holiday pot luck feast on the last day. This year we decided to do White Elephant because of the economy being bad. I think it was actually more fun!

4. We do decorate for Christmas at our school. No one has ever voiced an opinion otherwise, so we go ahead with it. As of right now we don't have any Jewish children or Jehovah witness children in our school. However, our parties are not mandatory. I don't think anyone would ever dream of insisting upon us participating. This is the first year in awhile that I have because I didn't have to spend any money!

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SECRETFUN 12/23/2009 11:45PM

  Well, our former director was Jewish, so he set the tone.

1. Do you work in the public or private sector? Public

2. Do you have any holiday parties at work? During the work day, or outside work hours? We have always had something during the work day. Used to be a potluck (and we have good cooks!) with games of various types and socializing in our larger office area. Now it is combined with our awards ceremony. This is our 'slow' time though and it is more 'snow' themed in general.

3. Is this year different than the usual? Last year we started a new trend, not this year.

4. Is the party Christmas-specific, or multi-winter-holiday? (Decorations, music, etc.) It is usually winter. There are poinsettias and some people wear red which some think is Christmas although some of them wear read frequently. The party is NOT Christmas specific though. We have occasionally had garland and we are allowed to have a tree but nobody does. We are not allowed to have candles although one person had an electric menorah or something that was set up one year. Do not see much of the other winter holidays although people discuss them.

Some people have more Christmas specific holiday parties at their offices, but not my group. Now, my old boss used to invite everyone to his Hanukkah party, but it is his family party, been going on for 60 years, it was after hours, etc. I treat that like any other holiday party invite, not a work party per se.

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PHEBESS 12/23/2009 7:45PM

    I even received two "Merry Christmas" emails from the superintendent of education and the Commissioner of Ed - I replied with "Happy Chanukah" - I'll see if I get a reply.

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TARABEAR 12/23/2009 6:35PM

    1. Private non-profit
2. nope. None.
3. nope
4. there are some wintry type decorations around from some staff meetings. Cut-out snowflakes, ring garlands and trees.

I've been really aware this year of how many people wish others a Merry Christmas without being aware of their beliefs. Even as a Christian, I just think it's so presumptuous. I prefer happy holidays. No one needs to be excluded.

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PHEBESS 12/23/2009 5:03PM

    Yeah, that's what I'm used to from the public sector - nothing. That's why I find what we do at school so strange - especially since we're such a diverse population at our school and in our community.

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POOKIEWOO 12/23/2009 4:50PM

  1. Do you work in the public or private sector? Public

2. Do you have any holiday parties at work? During the work day, or outside work hours? nope nothin at all

3. Is this year different than the usual? we got a small bonus. after 9 years it was a suprise!

4. Is the party Christmas-specific, or multi-winter-holiday? (Decorations, music, etc.)


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