In a half-page full-color display in yesterday's Grand Rapids Press, the museum purported to educate us in the many ways in which West Michiganders celebrate "winter holidays". The feature regaled us with the charms of Diwali, Hanukkah, St. Lucia's Day, Chinese New Year, and even that most ersatz of holidays (winter or otherwise), Kwanzaa. It cajoled us to understand these celebrations of Hindus, Sikhs, Jews, Swedes, Chinese, and allegedly African-Americans as part of appreciating the diversity of our community.
I say "allegedly" regarding the celebration of Kwanzaa by African-Americans, because the only December holiday I have ever known black friends and colleagues to celebrate is Christmas. Now that brings up something rather interesting about the museum's winter holiday piece in the Press. Nowhere does it make even the slightest acknowledgment that Christmas also happens to be a wintertime holiday, and I daresay not a particularly obscure one. In fact it is the most important holiday of the season for that one-third of the world's population who are Christians. Ah, but then, you wouldn't know that Christians even exist by reading the museum's winter holiday feature. Hindus, Sikhs, and Jews do abound (apparently even in River City), but not Christians who outnumber them combined, both here and throughout the world.
Then again the whole notion of confabulating all of these disparate celebrations as winter holidays is misbegotten. I doubt that snowflakes and horse-drawn sleighs are images that Hindus commonly associate with their celebration of Diwali, as most of India enjoys a tropical clime. Similarly with most celebrants of Chinese New Year. Winter is merely incidental to Hanukkah, as well as Christmas. Both are international holidays and celebrated with as much gusto where it is summer in December as where the snow blows that time of year.
Surely, the museum's managers are not so ignorant as to not know this. Therefore, it is safe to conclude that their rationale for lumping all of these celebrations together in the Press as "winter holidays", to the pointed exclusion of Christmas, is to diminish the prominence of Christmas. This is especially evident when one considers the very small fraction of area residents who celebrate Diwali, Hanukkah, St. Lucia's Day, Chinese New Year, and Kwanzaa. Moreover, their true aim is further exposed in that, if the Press feature merely sought to highlight the diversity of local ethnic groups by way of the current season, then they had a host of national Christmas traditions available for inclusion in that piece.
As the prominence of Christmas is the consequence of a plain demographic fact -- i.e., the overwhelming majority of West Michiganders are Christians and for most of them the birth of Jesus is second only to His resurrection as a celebration of their faith -- and hardly anything nefarious, its diminishment is driven by a multiculturalist ideology rather than the pedagogical mission that is properly that of a public museum. Even so, I would not recommend that Christians as Christians get too riled about this bit of politically correct obnoxiousness that the museum's managers put on display in the Press (a piece which, by the way, was sponsored by the Press). After all, Christmas is still what it is regardless of their snub of it in their list of wintertime holidays.
However, taxpayers might want to give some thought as to whether or not their hard-earned dollars should support a public museum being used to disseminate propaganda instead of facts.