Texas removes Christmas from curriculum

Texas is considering a new social studies curriculum. Apparently the authors have removed Christmas and Rosh Hashanah from the sixth grade lessons.

The previous sixth grade curriculum included Christmas, Easter, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Ramadan. The new one makes no mention of Christmas or Rosh Hashanah, and has added the Hindu festival Diwali.

Members of the review committee explained that “the examples include the key holiday from each of the five major religions.”

Apparently the State Board of Education is likely to reverse this change. According to Dallas State Trustee Geraldine Tincy Miller, “the experts made a mistake.”


  1. As a Christian, I am jazzed that someone thought about it enough and was willing to be counter-cultural enough to state that Easter is the central holiday of this faith. Woo! Go textbook authors! (For once 🙂

  2. This sounds like a reasonable solution.

    Last year, on the Festival of Lights, a British Indian co-worker of mine gave candles to everyone in the office and received a lot of confused stares. When I explained the significance of the candles, most people had never heard of the holiday.

  3. This may be a stupid question, given the overall reduction in content of public school curricula, but can’t they teach about more than one holiday per religion, or more than 5 overall?

  4. jb – there’s always a conflict between breadth and depth when teaching content. The more religious holidays you teach about, the less depth you can go into for each one for a given set of time. There’s no obvious right answer to this tradeoff.

    And in terms of theology Easter seems to explain more about Christainity than Christmas does, the central point of Christainity is Christ’s death and rising again.

  5. “the experts made a mistake”…what precisely would give someone the standing of an “expert” in making this recommendation?

  6. I remember when I was in sixth grade, one of the teachers (and a couple students in the class) were Jewish, and upon realizing that most of us knew little of the holidays, took a class period to talk about them – both the “wider” significance and also how their families celebrated them. (I learned about Diwali and some of the Muslim holidays from students I went to high school with)

    I dunno. I suspect more is being made of the textbook decision than it really deserves. (And I agree: if you’re going to only address one Christian holiday, Easter is the important one.)

  7. I don’t remember Christmas being an important part of history.

    Hall Monitor

  8. What bugs me is that schools teach a lot about religions, but little if anything about the Enlightenment when many Westerners got brave enough to say that Christianity is bunk.

  9. I’m with Clix. We have long tended to elevate Christmas beyond its theological significance, as well as learning about Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc because they fall at around the same time–giving rise to such misunderstandings as Hanukkah is Jewish Christmas.

    There’s a lot of historically interesting stuff to learn about the evolution of the celebration of Christmas (wasn’t always celebrated in America, you know) and its metamorphosis from a fairly drunken observation to the kind of family emphasis that Hallmark likes. Might fit in with a study of Dickens. Don’t know that it has to be included in state standards for looking comparatively at world religions.

  10. But Christmas isn’t a “key holiday”–that’s Easter. If you’re only going to pick one, Easter would be it, so I don’t understand why anyone is upset.

  11. Agree with you all but this is my home state of Texas we are talking about here. This ‘doesn’t have a prayer’ of approval.

  12. Christianity being treated on a par with other religions. That is persecution

  13. Hall Monitor
    September 17, 2009 at 5:45 am
    I don’t remember Christmas being an important part of history.

    I do, at least American history. General Washington, knowing the Hessian troops would be drunk from Christmas “festivities”, crossed the Delaware River with his army and attacked the Hessians at Trenton, NJ. It was a substantial victory for the fledgling colonial army.

  14. Christmas is a federal holiday the last time I looked.

  15. “Christmas is a federal holiday the last time I looked.”

    Yeah, but wasn’t it Texas that refused to honor another federal holiday: Martin Luther King Day?

  16. This is your argument, Margo?

  17. @ Darren

    Most historians agree that it was only a myth the the Hessians were “drunk.” There is no conclusive evidence to support it. (read “Washington’s Crossing” by David Hackett Fischer or “General George Washington” by Edward Lengel). While it was an important battle, the fact that it was the day after Christmas remains arbitrary.

    Besides, you would think the troops would fight better while drunk! Isn’t that how most bar fights are won?

    Hall Monitor

  18. Well, my follow-up is, are we studying faith or culture? There is NO question that Christmas is a way more significant cultural holiday, but I thought they were trying to learn about different religions.

  19. Wow….amazing! Who are all you people who want to take Christianity from your childrens hearts? “let the little children come to me for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these”. “It will be better for someone to tie a rock around your neck and throw you in the deepest darkest ocean than for someone to mislead one of my little ones”
    Quoted by Jesus Christ…founder and Lord over the World, Universe, Heavens and….you even though you don’t know it! All will leave eternally, the question is Heaven or Hell! Wake up folks! Take the FREE gift of Salvation…its FREE to you but cost Jesus His Life!

  20. >> Most historians agree that it was only a myth the the Hessians were “drunk.”

    Oh sure. In an age in which the only safe beverages were alcoholic, public drunkenness was a fact of daily life, drunkenness was one of the few reliable and affordable means of “entertainment”, it was a holiday, the weather was atrocious, the Hessians were on the safe side, for them, of an ice-choked and unbridged river what were the chances that they all got lit?

    By the way, were any of those historians Michael A. Bellesiles?

  21. @ allen

    Well, using that logic, it can be said that both sides were probably drunk. An even playing field, the day “after” Christmas.

  22. “This is your argument, Margo?”

    Merely an observation.

  23. To me, the interesting message here is that we used to have room in the curriculum to teach about five holidays. Now we only have room for four.

    I guess it was the result of budget cuts… Oh, I forgot, total school spending in Texas was up 113% between 1998 and 2008!

    We’re not getting what we pay for, that’s for sure.

  24. Let’s hear it for Geraldine “Joe Wilson” Miller.

    Once again I am embarrassed by my Republican Party members. Her statement is culturally bigoted, ethnocentric, and un-Christian.

    Miller: “Why would you take Christmas and Rosh Hashanah out and replace it with a Hindu festival, that’s not well known, or with very little if you will substance to it?”

  25. “Well, using that logic, it can be said that both sides were probably drunk.”

    Which neatly illustrates the shortcomings of deduction. Both sides pretty obviously weren’t drunk.

    “An even playing field, the day “after” Christmas.”

    The day *after* Christmas starting at midnight of course.

    In any case, what’s important is that mentions of Christmas be kept to a minimum since showy claims of tolerance are much more important then the actuality of tolerance. Don’t hate the sin, hate the sinner.

  26. Funny cartoon relevant to this topic:


    Hall Monitor

  27. Rob – the number of topics is not necessarily a good measure of the amount of content covered.

    Someone has apparently written a 490 page book merely on the theological aspects of Easter Saturday (one day of the Easter holiday and not the most dramatic). While I certainly don’t think that 6th grade school teachers should be assigning 490 page books on each day of each of the 5 religious holidays, (with presumably an even higher page count for Good Friday), it does show that there’s a lot of depth in there, so that reducing the numbers of topis covered could result in spending more time on each topic.

    Alternatively, a hypothetical lazy teacher faced with the original 6 holidays could just teach one line meanings of each of them and then have everyone sit down to watch a video. Who knows?


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