It's beginning to look a lot like a multicultural Christmas
Update: As one twitter reader pointed out, Saint Nicholas is not Christmas.
In these stories, the Muslims are just stand-ins.
In the Netherlands, the Christian Democratic party (CDA) is upset that municipalities are removing the Christian cross from Sinterklaas (Saint Nicholas), in order to make him 'multi-ethnic' and a 'universal figure'.
The CDA turned to the ministers of internal affairs and culture. "there is no reason to scrupulously hide the Christian origins of Saint Nicholas," according to parliament member Koppejan. "We think it's great that there are ethnic groups in Dutch society who come up with their own holidays, customs and religions, but that shouldn't mean that the Christan origin of our own holidays should be renounced."
Raymond Borsboom, one of the organizers of the Saint Nicholas festivities, says that this has nothing to do with Christianity. In 2006 Saint Nicholas got a makeover, and the designer chose the coat of arms of Amsterdam (three Saint Andrew's crosses). In West-Amsterdam, Saint Nicholas visits the schools without a cross.
In the official national festivities, Saint Nicholas does appear with a cross.
In Belgium, there was an attempt to protest against the 'cross-less' Saint Nicholas. "A real Saint is one with a miter AND a cross," according to Marc Belens, one of the parents who protested. "We're a group of about 250 parents and grandparents, and began to act when a kid told us that Saint wasn't real because there was no cross on his miter."
The plans for the protest made the news, but in practice, not many showed up.
Last year the Alderman for Education in Antwerp decided that Saint Nicholas may not enter public schools with a cross, since the holiday should be 'religion-neutral'. The alderman later recanted (Antwerp: Sinterklaas may wear cross), but if schools do allow the cross in, teachers may not talk about its meaning, unless it's within the context of religion-class.
In Norway, the national broadcaster NRK, decided that Bible stories are inappropriate for small children. Therefore they will not be showing the Danish pre-Christmas show "Jesus & Josefine". NRK says there are violent scenes in the show which are inappropriate for small children, but they do not intend to make their own Jesus show. "We live in a multicultural society, so a whole pre-Christmas show on Jesus won't be relevant. We wish to include those who have other religions," says Ingrid Hafstad, head of the Children's Department at NRK.
Sources: Telegraaf; ND 1, 2; AD; Parool (Dutch); Kristeligt Dagblad (Danish)