Texas Woman's University would like to help you plan your Christmas party. Er, sorry, your holiday party. Wait, sorry again, your "end of fiscal year" party. There we go. That's better.
The university put out a press release citing the advice of Mark Kessler, a professor of multicultural women's and gender studies at TWU, on proper party etiquette in these culturally sensitive times.
"Consider naming the party, if it is scheduled for December, without using the word 'holiday,'" says TWU. "'Holiday' connotes religious tradition and may not apply to all employees. For educational institutions, a December gathering may instead be called an 'end of semester' party. For a business office, an 'end of (fiscal) year' party may be more appropriate."
I don't mean to go full War on Christmas here, but yikes.
The guidance continues:
- Try to assemble and include a diverse group of employees in the planning of the party. This would include, as much as possible, non-Christian employees of Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and other religions, as well as non-believers.
- Avoid religious symbolism, such as Santa Claus, evergreen trees or a red nosed reindeer, which are associated with Christmas traditions, when sending out announcements or decorating for the party. Excellent alternatives are snowflakes, snowmen or winter themes not directly associated with a particular holiday or religion.
- Avoid playing music associated with a faith tradition, such as Christmas carols. Consider a playlist of popular, celebratory party music instead.
So it's bad and wrong to involve religious tradition in party planning? Okay. But:
- Plan a menu that does not symbolize a particular religious holiday (for example, red and green sugar cookies shaped like Christmas trees). But don't forget to consider menu items that reflect dietary preferences and requirements of non-majority groups in your organization (e.g., halal or kosher).
Wait a minute. I thought we were supposed to pretend religion doesn't exist at all during the planning of this party. Halal and kosher are dietary restrictions that pertain to certain religious groups. Aren't we suddenly violating the strictly secular nature of our party? Why must we put kosher items on the menu, but leave off Christmas cookies?
Come to think of it, our multicultural holiday party no longer feels very all-inclusive. It actually seems targeted to include certain religious groups and dis-include others.
Perhaps it makes more sense if you have a PhD in multicultural women's and gender studies.