A new 2011-2012 school calendar for children published by a branch of the European Union has omitted references to Christian holidays but has kept its references to prominent Jewish, Hindu, and even Muslims holidays, according to a Catholic news outlet.
Catholic News Agency (CNA) reports the European Commission printed three million school diaries, which include the calendars, that it hands out free of charge to students who request them. But missing from all the copies were any references to sacred Christian holidays.
CNA quoted former French politician and government minister Christine Boutin, who said that while Christian holidays such as Christmas and Easter are missing from the diary's pages, days commemorating “Sikh Baisakhi-Day, the Jewish Yom Kippur holiday, the Muslim holiday Aid-el-Kebir,” remain.
The omissions have drawn the ire of the Christian Democratic Party in France. The group is circulating an online petition to have the Christian holidays reinstated.
The petition asks, "Why is this omission unacceptable?" and then outlines three reasons:
- The role of Christianity in the European contruction is an undeniable and historical fact. How can this diary pretend to inform teenagers about the EU, removing all references to christianism, negating a religion that contributed so much to its construction and unity ?
- Christianity is the first religion in Europe. This oversight offends many people. The denial of something so important for them, the oversight of the values and beliefs they share, is intolerable.
- Christianity is not only a religious factor, but also a cultural and founder factor of the history and identity of many European Nation’s [sic]. Christian holidays, in particular Christmas and Easter, absent in this diary, are celebrated through all Europe by many persons, even non Christians.
The EU is calling the omissions an accidental error. The European Commission issued an explanation saying,
"At the bottom of each page of this 'class journal' are small quotes or information devoted to various subjects and perhaps less known to European students. Some of them sometimes refer to cultural events, historical and religious...This approach led, without any deliberate intent, in the absence of references to events and important religious festivals that are very much a part of European heritage, particularly...Christmas and its importance in the Christian religion."
They claim that Christian holidays will be put back on the calendar for future printings.