With Halloween just around the corner, this Photo-Quote was a natural. The photo is a pumpkin my granddaughter carved, and the quote comes from Charles Schulz:
There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics and the Great Pumpkin.
– Linus Van Pelt in “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” by Charles Schulz –
Halloween will likely elicit the usual Church/State debate about religion. State, in this case, are the schools in Canada (and the United States) that have either renamed or eliminated Halloween.
I have been an ardent supporter of Halloween for over 50 years, and I have never thought of it as a religious holiday. When I took my kids out trick or treating, I knew I would be warmly welcomed by the people who knew me, and, by the ones who didn’t. I knew that my neighbours came from all walks of life and practiced all sorts of religions. But on Halloween night, we were one big happy community. Of course, there were always a few houses that didn’t participate. It never occurred to me that they might reject Halloween on religious grounds (apparently Halloween is offensive to most of the major religions). I just thought they had run out of candy.
Schools are pretty much trying to get out of doing anything that is going to offend anyone. They want to be culturally “all inclusive.” Christian religious holidays were the first victims. That is problematic, though. Canada was built upon mostly Christian principles. Our country was woven together with beliefs, and yes, holidays that reflect those ideals. When a school, or a municipality, tries to be “all-inclusive”, they run the risk of offending a very large portion of the population. (The International Religious Freedom Report for Canada, for 2006, states that 77 percent of the population claims to be Christian, and 17% claim no religious affiliation.) When the large offended group are also the people whose forefathers built the country, you can understand why people are a bit miffed.
I think what a lot of Canadians want is for the “State” to stand up for who we are. Yes, we are multi-cultural, but our strength comes from how we merged into one country. Yes, we all came from somewhere else in the not too distant past (we aren’t a very old country, really), but we chose English as our native language (French is an official language at the federal level and is the native tongue of those living mostly in Quebec.) Yes, we are mostly Christian, and we observe the standard Christian holidays. Yes, we welcome immigrants, but we expect them to merge with us, not be distinct from us. We expect them to adopt our country and adapt to our ways. This is what our forefathers did.
I have traveled to many parts of the world. My favourite trips were to countries that made me feel I was in a very foreign place indeed! What would be the point of flying half way around the world to visit a place that was pretty much like the one I live in? And that is why Canada has to define what it means to be Canadian. We can’t just be a mishmash of every culture and language that settles on our land. We have to stand up and declare who we are… A good first step would be to give each new immigrant a gift, with the greeting, “Welcome to Canada, here is your Halloween costume!”