“Christmas is an important event in our year, but they [Christmas and Independence] can both be highlighted without sacrificing the one, in our anxiety to highlight the other. I should like to exhort you, the representatives of the media and corporate Barbados, to make a commitment to promoting the spirit of community and of Independence,” – Steven Blackett, 2008
This quote was recorded in 2008 as Mr. Blackett, the then Minister of Community Development and Culture, believed that the news media and corporate Barbados should not seek to focus on Christmas during Independence celebrations but rather seek to execute their marketing strategies in a way that the Independence celebrations are not eclipsed. He also argued that Independence should be given the prominence it deserved, as activities leading up to Independence Day provide Barbadians with the opportunity to express their nationhood.
The debate on celebrating Christmas during the Independence period has been raging for quite a while. The debate on Nationalism vs Christianity or Pride vs The Spirit of Giving is one that has prompted persons including Mr. Blackett to speak out. Here is what some laypersons have said with reference to this issue:
Independence is a time for nationalism, whereby we celebrate our freedom and likewise share respect to those who made it a reality. Nay
It’s unfortunate that Independence is so close to the Christmas season but there’s a time for everything. We can celebrate Christmas all during December and well into January. Why can’t we let independence have its moment? Nay
Independence is a time we should be focusing on our culture. We shouldn’t be worrying about Christmas at this time. And plus Christmas only starts so early because it’s a money making thing. Nay
I just think the two seasons clash so it can be shared. It’s just unfortunate that Independence falls in such a season. For some people Christmas is more commercial and overdone and Independence is forgotten. Christmas can be a distraction from the importance of Independence and teaching our children their heritage. Neither Yay nor Nay
There’s nothing wrong with getting prepared before December. Nothing wrong with sprucing up your house with paint etc. from November to ease the stress in December. So you can kill two birds with one stone. Although I not saying you should be playing Christmas music in early November. Neither Yay nor Nay
Well growing up I am accustom to celebrating it in Dec only. I am patriotic so I prefer to celebrate Independence in November. Nay
Independence is a time for celebrating our break from the monarchy. Christmas can be celebrated after November 30th. Nay
They should be celebrated separately. I think it is a situation unique to Barbados…. in that they fall right behind each other. I think they should be celebrated in their respective months as they have different meanings or significance. Nay
Therefore, the general consensus tends to be that Barbadians should celebrate Christmas during December and Independence during November. But is it really that simple? Here’s a response from one from the ‘older’ generation:
The truth is Christmas appeals more to us than Independence because of the spirit of giving and togetherness, even among those who may not be Christians. The atmosphere is more happy and peaceful around Christmas time and people are generally nicer. Also, Christmas is much more commercialized. Never have you heard someone say I will repair my house for Independence, or I will spruce up my house for Independence. It’s always Christmas. Why? Because overall it appeals to us more than the concept of Independence.
Very interesting words indeed. However, the fact remains that they are both separate holidays and deserve their own recognition. Far too often, Independence is neglected because Barbadians do not identify with the concept and it is up to the society, i.e. the parents, schools and the churches to communicate the importance of Independence in our society. Time and care needs to be taken to ensure that both holidays get recognition as both are equally important to the fabric of Barbadian society.
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