Inquirer Editorial: It's 'Christmas'

A worker removes part of the word "Christmas" from the shopping village on Dilworth Plaza on Monday.
A worker removes part of the word "Christmas" from the shopping village on Dilworth Plaza on Monday.
Posted: December 02, 2010

It's hard to believe that Philadelphia officials - notably, Managing Director Richard Negrin - ever agreed to the silly decision to strip Christmas from atop the German-style Christmas market set up each year just outside City Hall.

Fortunately, Mayor Nutter came to his senses late Wednesday and reversed the decision, saying he took time for "personal reflection."

Negrin said he'd received complaints from the public, so he ordered the name change on Monday. It was supposed to be changed to "Holiday Village," but the village operators later decided to take it down altogether.

This is the third year the village has been set up. Guess it took a couple of years for those who voiced protests to realize that they were upset by the sight of the brightly lit "Christmas Village" sign over the collection of wooden booths selling seasonal kitsch - you know, stuffed Santas, candied apples, and, er . . . Christmas trees.

No matter what the sign said, the "Village" would still be selling stuff that owes its origins mostly to Christmastime. There's just no getting around it.

Plus, why try? The market is a commercial enterprise, not a religious establishment. It's not anything like putting up a creche outside City Hall. The market celebrates the national pastime of shopping for Christmas presents.

To millions, Christmas celebrates the birth of the Christ child. But it's also a national holiday observed by millions more Americans.

City officials, who spent part of their busy day on Tuesday explaining the decision, stepped into a trap with this name change.

Stories like this are like red meat for the "war on Christmas" crowd, which no one imagines for a moment that the mayor supports. The name change merely provided an unnecessary embarrassment for the city.

And what timing: On Thursday, Nutter will preside over the annual lighting of the City Hall Christmas tree - itself described in a news release as a "holiday tree."


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