The Merry Christmas Law

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Happy Holidays?

You absolutely love the holidays and are excited about participating in your child’s holiday party. However, you wonder what kind of holiday greeting is appropriate at this party.

May you say, “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Hanukkah,” or are you restricted to the politically correct, “Happy Holidays”?

You certainly do not want to offend anyone, but you wish to acknowledge that you celebrate a specific holiday.

So, what does the law say?

Merry Christmas Law

You mean there is actually a Merry Christmas Law? The “Merry Christmas Law” was passed by the Texas legislature on May 8, 2013, and took effect immediately for the 2013-2014 school year. This law allows public school educators to incorporate the celebration of several winter holidays into the classrooms.

School districts can educate students about the history of all traditional winter celebrations. Students and staff may also present traditional greetings regarding the holiday celebrations, including: “Merry Christmas”; “Happy Hanukkah”; and, of course, “happy holidays.”

—See Tex. Educ. Code § 29.920(a)

What About Displays?

According to the new law, a school may assemble a Holiday themed display as long as the display does not include a message that encourages adherence to one particular religious belief.

The law allows for symbols such as the menorah, a Christmas nativity scene, or even a Christmas tree. However, the display must include a scene or symbol of either more than one religion, or one religion and at least one secular scene or symbol.

—See Tex. Educ. Code § 29.920(b)

This means you are free to help your child’s school set up a display, but you should make sure that it includes things outside of one single winter celebration. This also means that your child’s school is not restricted to calling the tree set up in the hallway a “Holiday Tree,” but call it a “Christmas Tree” and can even teach your child about its significance and history if they wish.

Season’s Greetings

Unfortunately, in our society today, people are so afraid of offending another religion/belief that they are forced to abandon expressing their beliefs. You should enjoy your child’s holiday party without fear and say whatever holiday greeting you are comfortable with. Also, encourage your child to learn about other winter holiday celebrations and encourage them to help their friends celebrate their holiday of preference.

From all of us at Matthew Harris Law, we wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and Happy Holidays! Be safe and enjoy your families and friends over these winter holidays.

 

–Authored by Carrie A. Harris, B.A.,

 

Matthew Harris Law, PLLC – Civil Litigation Division

1001 Main Street, Suite 200, Lubbock, Texas, 79401-3309

Tel: (806) 702-4852 | Fax: (800) 985-9479

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