By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer
PHILADELPHIA – City Hall gets Christmas after all.
Last week, an archway sign with the title “Christmas Village in Philadelphia” was placed above an array of kiosks where Christmas-themed items are on sale at a plaza outside City Hall.
After complaints, the city removed “Christmas” from the title, then removed the title and archway altogether.
That action prompted public outcry from Christmas proponents and made national news.
On Dec. 1, Mayor Michael Nutter announced that on the Dec.2 the sign, and its accompanying title “Christmas,” would be restored above the medieval-style village comprised of more than 50 wooden booths of European food and arts and crafts located on the northwest corner of Dilworth Plaza.
On Dec. 1, before the Mayor’s announcement that the sign in its entirety would be restored, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia issued a statement in response to the removal of the word “Christmas” from the kiosk display, calling the decision “very disappointing” and “a stark example of the secularization that is obscuring the true meaning of the Christmas season.”
The removal of “Christmas” from the sign was reportedly a “common sense decision” made in order to be sensitive to the spanerse needs of the larger community in Philadelphia.
In its statement, the Archdiocese questioned the city’s rationale of continuing to call the kiosk display a “Christmas village” in publically available brochures and Internet advertising
“If we are to be a truly spanerse and inclusive community, we must certainly be respectful of all of the various celebrations that occur during this time of year,” the archdiocesan statement said.
“Christmas,” the statement continued, “deserves its rightful place among those.”
The heritage of the City of Philadelphia is one that celebrates and respects freedom of religious expression, continued the statement.
“It is indeed disappointing to see this basic freedom undermined in America’s cradle of religious liberty.
“After all, there wouldn’t be a village if it weren’t Christmas!”
CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at 215-587-2468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.