Use of Word 'Holiday' For Parade Assailed
Some controversy has arisen in Southern Pines over the name of the town's winter parade.
The town, when referring to the parade, calls it the "holiday" parade. But the organizers in the Southern Pines Business Association call it the "Christmas" parade.
The use of the word "holiday" has drawn some criticism in the Public Speaking section of The Pilot's Opinion page. The issue has generated controversy all over the country as "holiday" has been substituted for parades and other events.
"I am sick and tired of 'Happy Holiday' instead of 'Merry Christmas,'" Aberdeen resident Rivan Harter wrote in a letter to the editor. "I grew up as a Christian celebrating the birth of Christ on Dec. 25. It wasn't wrong then and it isn't wrong now. ... Christmas is a Christian holiday, you can't change that, so let's not try to be politically correct to accommodate or soothe the feelings of anyone!"
Greg Zywocinski, head of the Business Association and unofficial master of December ceremonies for the last couple of years in Southern Pines, said that he always uses the word Christmas.
"This is my third year working on it," Zywocinski said. "It's always the Christmas parade with me. I don't know about any holiday parade."
Years ago, many retailers, in an effort to keep from alienating non-Christian shoppers, began using "Happy Holidays" in advertisements and promotional items. Some governmental bodies followed suit as a way to welcome celebrants of other late-December holidays, such as Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, to municipal festivities.
However, Christmas is a nationally recognized holiday. There is no legal reason why the town would have to take the "Christmas" out of its holiday festivities.
But Zywocinski said that the town made him call it the holiday parade on the town Web site. The banners the town puts up every December also say "Happy Holidays." Town Manager Reagan Parsons has been on vacation this week and was not available for comment.
"I think people who work for the town raise their eyebrows when you use the word Christmas," Zywocinski said. "I haven't been told I can't use that word, but I get the distinct impression that that's the unofficial position of the town. I make no secret of these feelings."
Zywocinski said that he's not trying to advocate any religion -- in fact, he said that people of all religions are welcome to come and enjoy the fun -- but that he's fighting against the movement toward "holiday."
"As long as I'm involved in this thing it's going to be the Christmas parade, the Christmas tree and the Christmas tree lighting," he said.
He added that the putting up of Christmas trees began as a pagan custom, so people shouldn't think that calling something Christmas means only Christians can enjoy it.
"I use the word Christmas," he said. "That's just what it is."
Contact Matthew Moriarty at 693-2479 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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