A Very Merry Swedish Christmas?

World

A long-lasting Christmas tradition in Sweden no longer exists...

There are Christmas traditions that have stood the test of time: building and eating gingerbread homes, opening presents under a decorated tree, and enjoying a delicious dinner while singing carols are often enjoyed and experienced with loved ones. One meaningful tradition is decorating homes, offices and streets with colourful and bright Christmas trees. For those who celebrate Christmas in Sweden, the act of decorating streets with lights will be become a distant memory.

According to multiple sources, the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) has banned municipalities to hang Christmas lights on street poles.  This means many towns will have no festival lights shining on major streets.

Although is may seem like a minor change to the holiday season, it has raised questions about the intention of the ban. As multiple sources state, the formal reason for this ban was for security purposes.

Yet, as the same sources state, the “security” argument can be viewed as an excuse.  According to diverse news outlets, many people view the security argument as flawed and unrealistic (). Some have expressed scepticism since this news comes after reports that the number of Muslim citizens immigrating to Sweden has grown exponentially in comparison to its European counterparts ().

There has been some strong reaction to the news of bans.  Many have become suspicious of the timing of this new rule, and are stating the Christmas lights ban is an effort to avoid offending Muslim migrants (http://bit.ly/2eCsMaS). One news outlets reports the ban also occurs after a “speculated action of a top Swedish Bishop advocating the removal of crosses from a Christian church to replace them with Islamic symbols as an attempt to please Muslims living in Swedish town” (http://bit.ly/2eCsMaS).

Whether the “security” reasons for the new ban are legitimate or not, the rule’s affect may be felt worldwide.  There are already anti-Muslim and racist commentary about the ban being expressed on social media and news platforms. Claims that the ban is a “laughable excuse” and a sign of “weakness” continue to appear in online dialogue and commentary (http://bit.ly/2eySEEx).  With tensions on the rise due to latest ISIS activity and acts of terrorism overseas, that dialogue will only become more aggressive and hateful.

It will also be important to see how other countries in Europe and across the world react to the Christmas lights ban.  Will other religious groups respond well to the ban? Or will there be retaliation against Sweden’s bold act? Pay attention to more public holiday traditions-they may dictate a new wave of traditions and celebrations.

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