In one New York school, Santa Claus is banned, any mention of Christmas is forbidden, and the Pledge of Allegiance is no longer recited.
Instead, “harvest festival” has replaced Thanksgiving, and “winter celebrations” have substituted for Christmas parties.
Why might this be, you ask? Meet Eujin Jaela Kim, the principal of PS 169 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
Last month, a memo from the school's assistant principal gave students a heads-up that there would be no red stockings, reindeers or carols this year.
The letter told them that instead there would be a “harvest festival instead of Thanksgiving or a winter celebration instead of a Christmas party.”
He urged staff to “be sensitive of the diversity of our families. Not all children celebrate the same holidays”.
According to the New York Post
, school administrators told PTA president, Mimi Ferrer: “We definitely can’t say Christmas, nothing with Christmas on it, nothing with Santa,”
“No angels. We can’t even have a star because it can represent a religious system, like the Star of David.”
And Kim isn’t the only principal to have a problem with Christmas.
In Italy, principal Marco Parma courted controversy last month by postponing the annual Christmas concert for primary school pupils until January and rebranding it a “winter concert” which will not feature any religious songs.
The head of the Garofani comprehensive school in the small town of Rozzano has also turned down two mothers who wanted to teach Christmas carols to the children during lunchbreaks.
“In a multi-ethnic environment, it causes problems,” Parma said, saying his decisions had been influenced by an unhappy experience last year.
“Last year we had a Christmas concert and some parents insisted on having carols. The Muslim children didn’t sing, they just stood there, absolutely rigid.
“It is not nice watching a child not singing, or worse, being called down from the stage by their parents.”
Parma recently resigned after his decision was openly ridiculed by the Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi.