the end of xmas ???

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    By Kate Uebergang and Susie O'Brien
    November 19, 2004

    SANTA, tinsel and nativity scenes have been outlawed in some Melbourne kindergartens and childcare centres this Christmas.

    Fairytale parties and non-religious end-of-year celebrations are being pushed instead in a move branded "politically correct clap-trap" by one expert.

    A government-funded kindergarten association is also circulating guidelines suggesting end-of-year celebrations in place of a religious event.

    Some angry parents are fighting back, saying they want a traditional Christmas.

    Tracey MacKenzie-George, of Taylors Hill, said she was upset to receive a letter from Orama Street Child Care Centre in Deer Park saying it would opt for a fairytale party day instead of a Christmas celebration.

    Mrs MacKenzie-George said she wanted her son Cooper, 2, to experience his first Christmas.

    "It's probably the first year Cooper is getting to know what Christmas is about," she said.

    "What is childhood without Christmas?"

    Brimbank Pre-School Association spokeswoman Kellie O'Connell said the intention was not to cancel Christmas. "We're basically trying to be inclusive and respectful," she said.

    "The majority of parents understood what the centre was trying to do."

    "It is a need we're responding to. Santa is still going to visit."

    Many children at Boroondara Kindergarten in Richmond will also celebrate the end of the year rather than Christmas.

    Co-ordinator Denise Rundle said children would sing songs and exchange presents, but without an explicit Christmas theme. There will be no Santa and no nativity play. "The children who celebrate Christmas see it as Christmas, but we also talk about it being the end-of-the-year celebration," she said.

    Free Kindergarten Association Children's Services has advised that other non-Christian festivals be given equal emphasis. But it doesn't support banning Santa in the name of cultural diversity.

    FKA spokeswoman Melinda Chapman said kindergartens were "encouraged to respect and reflect cultural diversity appropriate to their communities".

    Child Care Association chief executive officer Frank Cusmano said any move to ban Santa was "politically correct clap-trap".

    "Taking away Santa is simply taking the issue to a loopy extreme," he said.

    Dave R.
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