Businesses should not shy away from celebrating Christmas for fear of it being a Christian festival, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission has warned.
Chief executive Trevor Phillips has joined high-profile faith leaders from the Hindu, Sikh and Muslim communities to respond to a growing feeling that it’s taboo to celebrate Christmas in public spaces.
The commission said that every year, a local authority or public body falls prey to the accusation of “cancelling Christmas”, failing to openly celebrate for fear of offending non-Christians.
Birmingham City Council became notorious for using the term “Winterval” in 1998 to cover all religious festivities, and now almost half of all primary schools in the city are not staging a Christmas nativity play.
Just one in 10 Christmas cards sold in Britain contain religious messages or imagery, and a recent report claimed three out of four employers were not putting up Christmas decorations in the workplace to avoid causing offence, according to the Daily Telegraph.
But in a statement issued this week, the commission joined with faith leaders to say: ‘Let’s stop being silly about a Christian Christmas’.
Trevor Phillips, speaking at a diversity conference, said: “A lot of these stories about Christmas are the usual silly season stuff. But I can’t help feeling there’s sometimes an underlying agenda to use this great holiday to fuel community tension.
“That’s why I asked leaders in different religious communities to join me in saying: it’s time to stop being daft about Christmas. It’s fine to celebrate, and it’s fine for Christ to be the star of the show.”