It's a simple concept, really. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
It's about being polite. It's about respecting traditions. It's about going with the flow when visiting another city, country or experiencing another culture. The same applies when you move to live in another country or city with a different culture.
So why is it that Canadian schools, insist on altering our own traditions and cultures for newcomers?
In 2011, Calgary area schools made news for banning gory and scary Halloween costumes. Instead of the traditional spooky stuff, the children were asked to dress in caring and community friendly attire.
The principal, Michelle Speight, told The Calgary Herald "the move is designed to accommodate all children, including those with cultural backgrounds that don't celebrate Halloween."
The principal wasn't responding to complaints, she was proactively trying to neuter the holiday to accommodate cultural sensitivities. Hrmph.
While Speight sought out happy and heroic costumes, other schools skip the idea of dressing up altogether and just ask students to wear black and orange. That's not a fix either.
This year a London, On candidate for school trustee included a crusade to stop "Black and Orange Day" as part of his campaign pledge.
It doesn't make any sense, frankly. Why would we alter a centuries old tradition to accommodate a cultural minority? A cultural minority, that didn't even ask for the sanitization.
The debate is just getting started. In 2 months it will be Christmas. The seasonal celebrating starts the second the pumpkins are composted. The Season's Greetings, Happy Holidays and Best of the Season wishes will start flowing as nobody dare say Christmas at the risk of offending the Jewish, Muslim or Hindu among us.
Give me a break.
I'm willing to wish you Happy Hannukah, Happy Diwali or Gung Hei Fat Choy. If that's what you celebrate, good for you. Bring your culture here and let's have yet another reason to feast and party in the city! It's a great way to learn more about each other's beliefs, cultures, and have a greater understanding and appreciation of each other.
We learn how different cultures live when they are expressed to their fullest. Canada prides itself on being a cultural mosaic. Each group brings a different colour to the fabric of the country that should be celebrated.
The original Canadian culture needs a spot in that mosaic too.
So when the traditional North American holidays roll around, don't expect me to sanitize them. I don't expect my brother-in-law to dial down Hannukah thinking I'd find it offensive. I don't expect my mayor to skip Eid because I don't celebrate it. I look forward to the Chinese New Year parade and so do my kids. They shouldn't stop it because I'm not Chinese.
It's time to stand up for Canadian traditions and celebrate them without fear.
In Canada, we celebrate Halloween with scary pumpkins, costumes and candy from neighbours. In Canada, we celebrate Christmas with songs, and gifts, and a big red guy in a suit. In Canada, we have St Patrick's Day parades that feature bhangra dancers followed by bagpipers. We celebrate the world's cultures as our own and should feel comfortable enough to celebrate our traditional Canadian ones as well.
When in Rome, people. When in Rome.
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