Why itís okay to celebrate Christmas at work

Dec 19 2004 by Dan Bobinski Print This Article

In the race to secularize society - that is, strip it of religious and traditional underpinnings - blinders seem to be in fashion. The Christmas holiday is on the chopping block, and a double standard seems to be blinding the wise.

Since the longstanding holiday of Christmas is this coming weekend, it seems fitting to address the issue in the context of the workplace.

Picture yourself on a visit to the Far East in the spring. Throughout Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and Thailand (to name a few) you find people celebrating Vesak, commemorating the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha. Bodhi Trees are decorated with garlands and colored flags, and rows of lamps are lined up around the tree. Every Buddhist takes the day off to attend special services in honor of Buddha and to rededicate themselves to his teachings.

This is a big event to employers who are Buddhist, and no one begrudges them the right to acknowledge their beliefs and conduct business how they want.

In Jamaica, you may find people celebrating the birthday of Haile Selassie, the founder of Rastafarianism. You certainly wouldnít begrudge Rastafarian employers the right to celebrate in whatever manner they choose.

In the Arab world, late fall is the time for Ramadan, Islamís holiest month of the year. Islamic employers make allowances to accommodate varying work schedules during Ramadan. One example is closing businesses at 3:00 PM so employees can attend their familyís evening ďbreak of the fastĒ meal. (Note: Non-Islamic employers are encouraged to do this as well.)

It is also common practice for Muslim employees to give each other cards of encouragement, and employees are given time off to attend Eid prayers at the end of Ramadan. In the Arab world, where Islam is the dominant religion, no one would dare challenge these practices.

So what about western society, where Christianity has been the dominant religion for several millennia? Varying polls show that between 60 and 90% of the US population attends church, and some 90% believe in God. With these figures, how is it that so many workplaces are shying away from Christmas?

Traditionally, Christmas is celebrated by decorating trees (similar to Buddhists decorating trees for Vesak), giving Christmas cards (similar to Muslim practices during Ramadan), and the giving of gifts (what good business person doesnít understand the economic impact of that?).

The person of Christ is also at the center of the holiday. Whereas Buddha, Haile Selassie, and Muhammad remain at the center of celebration in other cultures, the mere mention of Christ in western workplaces has been deemed offensive in recent years.

Iím scratching my head.

Picture yourself in the Far East, trying to squelch all mention of Buddha in the workplace and see how far you go.

Picture yourself in Jamaica trying to say Haile Selassie is for private discussion only and see what happens to you.

Picture yourself trying to quell all Ramadan practices in the Arab workplace and Ö well, you get the picture.

Facts are facts. No matter where I look in the laws of western culture, I canít find anyplace where being offended is cause for someone else to stop what theyíre doing.

If people wouldnít demand that an Arab business owner in a predominantly Arab country stop all mention and practices of Ramadan, they certainly canít demand that a Christian business owner in a predominately Christian country stop all mention and practices of Christmas. Or can they?

Can you say ďdouble standard?Ē

Facts are facts, and letís not confuse them: The majority of people in America go to Christian churches and 90 per cent say they believe in God. And the first amendment of the US Constitution says that congress shall make no laws prohibiting the free exercise of religion.

So go for it, business owners. If you feel like celebrating Christmas in your workplace, you have world-wide precedent for doing so. Donít let the facts get confusing. Exercise your rights if you so choose. It is, as they say, the most wonderful time of the year!

Merry Christmas!

more articles

About The Author

Dan Bobinski
Dan Bobinski

Daniel Bobinski teaches teams and individuals how to use emotional intelligence and how to create high impact training. Heís also a best-selling author, a popular speaker, and he loves helping teams and individuals achieve workplace excellence

Older Comments

I work in the public school system and am facing people complaining that Silent Night Holy Night will be played on the bells at the Winter Concert. I need to know my rights as a Christian and how to take a stand against the since the will be singing Hannakuh songs also. Thank you!

Rebecca McGuckin

I dont really care about this 60% and 90% number. Did you know that 85.127% of all statistics are made up on the spot? Anyway some of those countries mentioned Like the Islamic countries. The religion is actually in control of the government. And even thought its obvious that fundy christians (and even some not so fundy ones) are conspiring to control the government in the US, officially they dont. So when it comes to public schools and other government funded workplaces, no they should keep religion pretty much out of it. To make for a non-hostile work environment. On the other hand, for privatley owned businesses, do what ever ya want to do. Thats part of being the 'owner'. Where I live there is a frozen yogurt shop that is decidedly fundy christian-ish, they have little signs up all over the shop about god and jc and what have you. And that is their right, and everyone is fine with that. IF you want christianiy to 'permeat' your life, thats nice, have a good time in the appropraite places. But your rights end where mine begin, I work for the state government and in that environment, i dont really think its appropriate (not to say that everyone doesn't celebrate even at work anyway)

'You show me a persecuted christian and I got some ocean front land in kansas to sell you...'

Amber alaska

You Sir, are an idiot. I'm sorry, but trying to compare this country to ANY of the ones you mentioned is rediculous. Hell no you can't dissent from the STATE religion in those countries, not without being jailed.

Here in America we have the right to practice whatever religion we choose, and that includes no religion. Keep your smut (that is what religion is) out of my workplace, and I'll do the same.

Nick Dubb

Thank you for writing such an article. No matter how many Christians there are in the US or how many people state that they believe in God, this country was founded for the purpose of religous freedom. So how dare someone, who by the way probably goes Christmas shopping and decorates a Christmas tree, tell me that I have to say Happy holidays instead of Merry Christmas? I am not threatened or offended if a Jewish individual wishes me a Happy Hannakah. Or if I wish an individual Merry Christmas and they say nothing back. If a true atheist or Jehovah witness can't deal with it than they are the ones with a problem.

I am sick and tired of this country and those making these ridiculous decisions catering to the extreme minority.

Jennifer Vermont

I read these comments to this man's atricle.....i'm amazed at the 'anger' coming off the page. When did people stop looking at the history of our country? Our country was founded on christian values and now it's been chipped away by those who don't wish to look at that but are angry somehow at christians, 'christmas'... then don't celebrate it, but realize our county was founded on these values, the holy bible's values. ask yourself how so many people could kill so easily and w/o remorse, rape, steal,etc.....all principles that teach against these horrible acts are based on commandments from the Bible and they're not being taught today, first the schools don't and now they are stripping the gov't of them. what does that tell you?? please don't throw your anger at this writer or me, examine your heart, examine this country, examine history....yes, possibly.. examine the commandments and see where we're missing vital teachings that are now being stripped from the songs, sayings, etc. that were made to give praise to the God that created...YOU!


I do find it funny that many Atheists get so angry at things being 'shoved in their face' in regards to religion... yet their children open presents on Dec. 25th too. Regardless of how its celebrated, its still CHRISTMAS.

Bob S.