The European Commission is discussing a new politically correct language. Officials dislike gender terms, Christian names and even the word “Christmas”. Conversations on how to make Europe as tolerant as possible are not the first year. Doubts have already caused the Christmas trees – to put them or not. But it seems that the good old traditions are still stronger.
Holidays are not aloud
At the end of October, European Commissioner for Equality, Elena Dalli, presented a 30-page draft regulation for EC officials. The European Commission’s Inclusive Communication Guidelines are guidelines for staff on how to use gender-neutral and LGBT-friendly speech patterns. The ideologist of the document is considered the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who regularly speaks about the importance of creating a “Union for Equality” in Europe.
The authors called for the assessment of a person “regardless of gender, racial or ethnic origin, religion, beliefs, health, age and sexual orientation.” For example, do not address the audience “ladies and gentlemen”, use the expression “dear colleagues”. And ins-tead of “miss” or “mrs” – n-eutral Ms. Purge speech fr-om “gender words”. It was recommended to replace “artificial” (man-made, literally “made by a man”) with the epithet “synthetic”.
Religious norms were not ignored either. Commissioners advise against using names of Christian origin in examples: “Malika and Julio” is better than “Mary and John” to describe a conventional international couple. Malika is a Middle Eastern name with Arabic roots.
Going even further, language reformers avoid the narrative of religious celebrations. “Not all people are Christians, and not all Christians celebrate holidays on the same dates,” the instructions explain. EC staff should say or write simply “holidays” instead of “Christmas”.
The Guidelines are an internal document. And he would not have touched ordinary Europeans who are politically incorrectly congratulating each other on Christmas. But when the content hit the Italian tabloid Il Giornale, it led to a flood of swearing on social media.
MEP Sophie Int Weld supported her colleagues from the EC: “European institutions must be strictly neutral. And most Europeans are non-religious.”
This statement is slightly at odds with the results of a study by the American Pew Science Center. True, for 2018 there is no completely fresh data. At that time, in 15 countries of Western Europe, the majority of respondents identified themselves as Christians. At the same time, 91 percent are baptized, and over half have declared their faith in God. However, after clarifying questions, only every seventh admitted that he believes “with absolute conviction.” Many rarely attend church – or do not go at all.
Six years ago, Pew called Christianity the largest religion in the world: then it was professed by almost a third of the world’s population. But the numbers showed that the number of Christians in Europe was decreasing.
The same resource reports that every year fewer and fewer people in America and Europe associate Christmas with religion and more and more people perceive it as “an echo of tradition.” The situation is similar on other continents. For example, last year in Australia, renowned physician Vincent Chandravinata posted on Facebook “Merry Christmas!” In response, I received a lot of angry comments for using the word “Christmas” – a derivative of the name of Christ. Subscribers emphasized: we are not Christians. The doctor was forced to retort: ??”How do I know that many consider the holiday to be religious?” But the post was not edited.
And even the governments of the Old World were seriously discussing how to bring the official language in line with the newfangled trends. In the British Parliament they discussed the correct congratulations: instead of Merry Christmas! (“Merry Christmas!”) Signs and postcards were encouraged to write Season’s Greetings! (“Happy seasonal holiday!”).
Pseudo-prohibitions and pseudo-officials
But, of course, things did not go beyond talk in conservative Britain. The Belgian authorities have made some progress: in 2012, they renamed Christmas festivities to “winter pleasures”. However, this did not apply to the holiday itself, only to some public events. The word “Christmas” has not disappeared anywhere: it is easy to find it both on the official website of Belgium and on numerous travel pages.
Far from reality are the statements of several bloggers that Christmas trees have disappeared from the streets of the country. Ind-eed, in Brussels, on the m-ain square in the early 201-0s, screens with a broadcast of winter landscapes were exhibited. Then came the cubist pseudo-tree made of glass and metal. But these decisions were dictated by concern for the environment. Later, a real tree returned to the square.
In other European countries, the authorities did not dare to cancel Christmas – unless they imposed restrictions due to the pandemic. Panic, as often happens, grows from the Internet: there are a lot of fake publications on the Internet on the topic of invented bans. For example, a few years ago in France, they allegedly limited large gatherings of people on the eve of the holiday, so as not to outrage Muslims. The authors of the articles refer to the non-existent material Le Figaro and the fictitious “press secretary of the Paris mayor’s office” – of course, with an oriental name.
Even more amusing – the statement circulated on the Internet that the Swedish authorities encroached on the traditional gleg, a variant of mulled wine, and stopped selling it because of the “politically incorrect” Christmas. In fact, it has become a victim of completely different EU regulations: flavored wines should not contain any raw materials other than those obtained from grapes. Whiskey or rum, which are part of the glög, do not fall under this standard. However, it is quite possible to buy it in liquor stores in Sweden – under the name “fortified drink”.
Of course, there is no smoke without fire, and there really was a conflict situation around the celebration of Christmas in Europe. But only once and again in 2012. In the Danish city of Kokkedal, where the majority of the population is Asian migrants, officials were reluctant to buy a tree for the main square. Local Muslims objected. The scandals ended in fights, including, according to some sources, with the participation of journalists. Administration official Karin Leegard Hansen, who defended Christmas traditions, fled the city, she said, due to numerous threats.
True, the tree was nevertheless set up then – albeit not high. Today, the likelihood of a repeat of this story in Denmark is slim. The new law limited the number of migrants living in one area: no more than 30 percent.
“Society, of course, is on the side of the holiday. But the crisis of European identity and values ??of liberalism cannot be denied. There is an opinion of a certain minority, which, perhaps, wants to revise the terms,” ??says Roman Lunkin, head of the Center for the Study of Problems of Religion and Society at the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences. “But these are not Muslims at all. They are tolerant of other confessions, because they themselves are religious.”
According to Lunkin, discontent in Kokkedal is not associated with anti-Christian sentiments: rather, it is common envy. The point, he believes, is in the very position of Muslims in Europe – they do not always have a mosque, they are not sufficiently integrated into society. And not only migrants are to blame for this disintegration, but also the European authorities.
The expert is confident that the number of Christians in Europe could not have changed much since 2018, when the Pew Center conducted a survey. Yes, the number of atheists is growing, but the number of active believers, as well as religious public organizations associated with Christian confessions, is also growing. “The picture is especially stable in countries with strong Protestant or Catholic traditions: Spain, Italy, Poland, Hungary,” Lunkin emphasizes.
Toast to Common Sense
The likelihood of the disappearance of the word “Christmas” from the speech of European officials is also small. At least for the foreseeable future. The “Guidelines” were met with hostility. Cardinal Pietro Parolin, secretary of state of the Vatican, reacted: “Of course, Europe owes its identity to numerous influences. But we must remember: perhaps the most important of them is Christianity.”
Ultra-right politicians, especially in Catholic Italy, did not remain silent either. “The European Commission believes that celebrating Christmas is not inclusive enough,” the leader of the Brothers of Italy party Georgia Meloni wrote on Facebook. “But our history and identity cannot be canceled, they must be respected.” Matteo Salvini, one of the leaders of the Northern League, joined Meloni’s words and called the EC document insane.
Interestingly, the position of Elena Dalli is not shared by the European Commission itself. One of the officials anonymously told reporters: “Commissioner Dalli compensates for the complete lack of political weight with a desire to break the foundations of the foundations. The world is going crazy. With Dalli, we will live under surrealism! (A hint of Salvador Dali and his artistic style. – Ed.)” …
MEPs from the Europe of Nations and Freedoms faction joined the critics’ camp. “We would prefer the EU to use citizens’ money to address much more specific and pressing issues. We will defend Europe’s Judeo-Christian values ??and sacred freedom of expression,” they said in a joint statement.
As a result, Elena Dalli backed down and withdrew the document, but promises to prepare a “mature version”.
“Long live the Europe of common sense!” – Tweeted a close friend of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and former President of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani. And there is no doubt – many shared the joy with him.