Christmas dinner becomes festive lunch

A leading Auckland migrant settlement agency is avoiding the word Christmas and will instead be talking about “happy holidays” and “season’s greetings”.

The Auckland Regional Migrant Services (Arms) says it has taken the move so non-Christians and those who do not celebrate Christmas do not feel excluded.

To be multiculturally sensitive, instead of calling its year-end get-together a Christmas lunch, it’s a “festive lunch”.

Arms spokeswoman Chinwe Akomah said the agency recognised that not all migrants and ethnic communities celebrate Christmas.

“As an inclusive organisation that respects and welcomes people from all backgrounds and faiths, we use terms such as ‘festive’, ‘happy holidays’ and ‘seasons greetings’,” she said.

AUT Professor of Diversity Edwina Pio said expunging Christmas by New Zealand organisations “is a bridge too far”.

“I would strongly urge organisations to display their respect, not by erasing the word Christmas, but by being more inclusive so that they keep Happy Christmas, but then also remember to wish individuals for Diwali, Eid Mubarak, Buddha Purnima, Happy Hanukkah and other faith-based festivals,” she said.

“I think New Zealand often bends over backwards in their aim not to offend minorities in terms of terminology.

The agency has the backing of Human Rights Commissioner Susan Devoy.

Dame Susan, who is also the agency’s patron, said references to Christmas were not banned at the agency but the terminology it used aimed at being inclusive.

“The lunch you refer to has always been called a festive lunch.”

Dame Susan wouldn’t say if she thought we should use generic terms and greetings rather than refer to Christmas by name.

“New Zealanders don’t like being told what to do and we are mature enough to decide how to celebrate our special days in our own ways.”


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