Once again, my best wishes to all Christians on the holiest day of the year.
It might appear to some that I am selective in expressing good wishes … I usually honour the Christian festivals of Christmas and the New Year and, sometimes, Easter, too, and I usually honour the Chinese New Year, also … but I rarely, if ever, have anything to say about Diwali or Passover or Ramadan. One reason is that Christmas and Easter and the New Year (Hogmanay) are important parts of the culture within which I grew up as a boy and within which I lived most of my life, and which, as this graphic, based on the 2011 census, shows, is still the dominant belief system and, therefore, the dominant cultural order here in Canada … oh, I served in places where they celebrate other events, and I tried to be a good guest in those places, and my two sons might even remember a Passover seder supper in a kibbutz in Israel back in the 1970s, but, essentially, I have observed other customs but I am not “at home’ in them. The Chinese New Year is different … my wife is Chinese and so it, too, is now part of my culture, too, along with things like moon cakes at the Mid-Autumn festival. So, I am sending good wishes out to the majority, in Canada. Maybe I should send them to everyone or no-one … but I’m not going to go down that road, so bear with me, please.
But it brings to mind a political aspect of sending good wishes. One of my friends, in a discussion, noted that the prime minister and other political leaders send their best wishes to almost any group celebrating almost any holiday except, it seemed to my friend, to Christians. Why, my friend wondered aloud, was it not ‘right’ to reach out to the majority? Another friend said it could not have anything to do with race because, this friend told us, the large Christian denominations are multi-racial and it is normal to find priests and ministers who, like many congregants, are from Latin America, Asia and, increasingly, Africa. Christians, this person observed, are more ethnically diverse than most religions, some of which are very closely tied to a specific region and to an ethnic, linguistic or racial group. I’m not sure if my first friend’s observation is correct or not; perhaps most politicians do wish everyone a blessed Lent, Palm Sunday, Easter, Whitsun, Advent as well as Christmas … perhaps not. Frankly, I don’t care one way or the other. Maybe someone has a staffer who has an auto reminder on the calendar with many, many, many holidays listed and perhaps, every few months, (s)he prepares canned greetings for each special day. I don’t. I don’t believe one is a white supremacist if one fails to offer felicitations on Kwanzaa (26 Dec to 1 Jan) or Eid al-Adha (which is 11-15 Aug this year, by the way) any more than I think one is not being sufficiently inclusive if one says “Merry Christmas” instead of “Season’s Greetings.”
Oh, and, by the way, I, personally, fall into that blue shape, almost ¼ of the population who profess no religion, but I am neither ashamed nor afraid to affirm that Canada is still a predominantly Christian country where, thankfully, almost all beliefs and customs are tolerated, if not always welcomed or, sometimes, accorded the respect they deserve.