SNP back winter festivals – except Christmas

The Scottish Government yesterday decided to ignore the existence of Christmas in its promotion of the country’s three “winter festivals”.

A mixture of mystification and anger greeted a Government press release promoting  St Andrew’s Day, Hogmanay and Burns Night – but making no mention of Christmas.

The release, which ran to more than 800 words, said: “The season of celebrations to mark Scotland’s distinct culture, unique heritage and creativity runs from St Andrew’s Day on November 30 through Hogmanay to Burns Season at the end of January, and will bring together lovers of all things Scottish from across the globe.”

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop (pictured) is quoted at length talking about the economic benefits of St Andrew’s Day, Hogmanay and Burns Night, but doesn’t utter the word “Christmas” on a single occasion.

Ms Hyslop said: “With 2012 designated the Year of Creative Scotland – our Winter Festivals are the perfect way to add some sparkle to our dark nights and get people involved in celebrating Scotland’s culture and creativity.”

Paul Bush, chief operating officer of EventScotland, adds: “Scotland is the perfect stage for events and is internationally renowned as the Home of Hogmanay. With St Andrew’s Day, Hogmanay and Burns Night, Scotland’s Winter Festivals incorporates three of Scotland’s key celebrations.”

The Catholic Church expressed dismay over the omission of Christmas saying it was symptomatic of a small section of society that sought to dismiss Christian tradition.John Deighan, parliamentary officer for the Catholic Church of Scotland, said: “It’s disappointing and hurtful to the Christian community and to anyone who has a sense of history and tradition. We wonder why so much effort is made to avoid hurting other groups, yet again Christianity is marginalised.”

Bashir Maan, a Glasgow Justice of the Peace and a prominent figure in the city’s Muslim community, said: “This is political correctness gone mad.

“Why should we be offended? Scotland’s religious population is 98 per cent Christian. Why should they not be allowed to celebrate their biggest religious festival?

“If my neighbour is celebrating Christmas, then I should join him. That’s what my religion tells me.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Christmas is a key celebration for families and communities. The Winter Festivals package includes events funded by the Scottish Government to help promote visitor attractions between St Andrew’s Day and Burns Night.”

• Full story at the Scottish Daily Express.