Don’t mess with ‘Merry Christmas’ in Texas

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from Fort Worth Star Telegram,

It’s unfortunate we got to a place where we had to have a law that says it’s OK to say, ‘Merry Christmas”.

This is Texas.

So you can safely toss the generic holiday greetings out the door.

As students head into the final week before “winter break” and plan for their “winter parties” state lawmakers are reminding residents that they are free to use the greeting of their choice — “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Hanukkah” or “Happy holidays,” if you must.

“Our teachers and students are able to celebrate the upcoming holiday season without fear of retribution or punishment,” said Rep. Dwayne Bohac, R-Houston, who last year helped pass the Merry Christmas law.

The Legislature wanted to make sure that students can exchange traditional holiday greetings — and display Christmas trees, menorahs and Nativity scenes at school as long as more than one religion and a secular symbol are included — without fear of sparking a lawsuit.

Texas has a history of holiday fights, from the battle a decade ago in Plano over candy cane pens that included a description of the candy’s Christian origin to last year’s concerns about a “winter party” at a Frisco elementary school that banned any mention of Christmas and prohibited the colors red and green, as well as Christmas trees.

“The 2013 Merry Christmas law was a reaction by the Texas Legislature to complaints that many public schools had gone too far in purging all traces of religious greetings and symbols from the holiday season,” said Mark P. Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston.
‘War on Christmas’?

For years, some have said there’s a “war on Christmas” because of controversies tied to celebrating or acknowledging the holiday.

People nationwide, trying to find an acceptable way to observe the holiday, even stopped sending cards wishing others a “Merry Christmas,” opting for “Happy holidays” instead.

Last year, Texas lawmakers said enough is enough and approved their measure, which drew more than two dozen co-authors, including Republican state Reps. Matt Krause of Fort Worth and Bill Zedler of Arlington.

“It’s unfortunate we got to a place where we had to have a law that says it’s OK to say, ‘Merry Christmas,’” Krause said. “But we started to see no Christmas trees, instead holiday trees, and people couldn’t sing Silent Night, changing the words to ‘cold night.’

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