By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA – The recent removal of the word “Christmas” from an array of kiosks where Christmas-themed items are on sale at a plaza outside City Hall is “very disappointing” and “a stark example of the secularization that is obscuring the true meaning of the Christmas season,” the Philadelphia Archdiocese said in a statement released Dec. 1.

Last week a sign with the title “Christmas Village in Philadelphia” had been placed 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.

After complaints, the city removed “Christmas” from the title, then removed the title and archway altogether. {{more}}

The statement, issued by archdiocesan spokesman Ken Gavin, also referenced the city’s decision to retain the full title for promotional materials.

“The change was reportedly a ‘common sense decision’ made in order to be sensitive to the spanerse needs of the larger community in Philadelphia,” the statement said.

“Now that the decision has been made to remove the sign altogether, is it ‘common sense’ to continue to call it 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. Christmas deserves its rightful place among those,” the statement continued.

“If we are truly to use common sense, we should understand that Christmas villages and trees are just that – and not vague symbols of some nebulous winter ‘holiday’ devoid of meaning.

“Christmas is a time when we Christians rejoice in the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and rekindle within our hearts a renewed spirit of charity, forbearance and benevolence toward our fellow human beings.”

As it stands, the decision to remove the word “Christmas” from the village of kiosks falls far short of capturing that essence, the Archdiocese said.

“The heritage of the City of Philadelphia is one that celebrates and respects freedom of religious expression. 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