Denmark: Schools drop Christmas traditions out of consideration for Muslim students

Denmark: Schools drop Christmas traditions out of consideration for Muslim students

Via Jyllands-Posten (Danish):

Schools are increasingly changing Christmas tradition in order to take into account a growing number of bilingual children.

At the Klostervænget school in Copenhagen, the school administration changed a few verses in the 'A Child is Born in Bethlehem' hymn sung by the children because they thought it would be preaching too much to the bilingual children.

At Møllevang school in Aarhus the school administration asked a music teacher to choose hymns that took into account the Muslim students, after students in a 3rd grade class and their parents protested that the children were expected to sing "Here come your little ones, Jesus".

At the Nørrevang school in Slagelse, the school administration canceled the Christmas ceremony in church, since the priest insisted on saying the Lord's prayer, and the school administration thought it would insult some of the students.

These examples show that various schools with many students of immigrant background are changing the way Christmas is celebrated. The schools feel they're in a dilemma between Christian traditions and taking into account the fact that increasing numbers of students are Muslim.

"By us it's important that all children have the same rights and obligations. Nobody should feel excluded, and therefore we won't go into a church with some of the children. Instead we're having the Christmas celebration at school," says Tom Schultz, principal of the Nørrevang school in Slagelse.

Anders Balle, head of the principal's union, asks principals to be pragmatic. "We shouldn't let go of the cultural part of Christmas, but they shouldn't be preaching either." He says students should be allowed not to participate in events in churches.

Education Minister Christine Antorini (S) doesn't want to intervene if schools decide to drop hymns. "But I think there's a fine balance that parents can ask that their children be exempt from religious events that are not part of the curriculum."