In the recent days, the European Commission has reshaped and sent out its internal communication guideline to promote a more inclusive internal and external communication for staff and members of the EU bodies.[I] First the Italian ‘il Giornale’ reported about the 32-page document, which rapidly went viral on social media and seen serious public backlash and such politicians as Matteo Salvini, president of ECR Giorgia Meloni or former President of the EP Antonio Tajani has also slammed the absurd progressive dictionary. But even Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state has voiced criticism on the issue.[II]
The document —fabricated by the lead of the EU commissioner for equality, Helena Dalli—is aiming to highlight that ‘every person in the EU has the right to be treated equally’ without references to ‘gender, ethnicity, race, religion, disability and sexual orientation’. And on this solid base it is considered the expression ‘ladies and gentleman’ too offensive and recommends the usage of ‘dear colleagues’ instead. But such words as ‘policeman’, ‘he and she’ ‘Mr and Mrs’ are also not very inclusive and neutral.[III] The document asks to use ‘police officer’, ‘they’ and ‘Ms’ (but Mx is even better) instead of the above exclusionary words and pronouns.
But what sparked the most intense reactions was the recommendation of saying ‘holidays’ instead of ‘Christmas’. The communication guideline also emphasizes the need for the diverse usage of names rather than choosing names that are typically from one religion. And as an example, of course, it shows how exclusionary are such Biblical names as John or Maria. It suggests using Malika and Julio instead.[IV]
This was seen by many conservative politicians as an attack on Europe’s Christian heritage and traditions banning ‘Christmas’ and ‘Maria’. ‘The European Commission, through an internal document, considers Christmas a not very ‘inclusive’ holiday. […] Now enough, our history and our identity are not erased’ – tweeted Giorgia Meloni, president of European Conservatives and Reformists and Fratelli d’Italia party. ‘MARIA. GIUSEPPE. LONG LIVE CHRISTMAS – Hoping that no one in Europe is offended’ – tweeted Lega party leader Matteo Salvini.
For us Hungarians, messing with Christmas is nothing new, unfortunately
Before the regime change in Hungary in 1989 the ruling socialist political power with its anti-religious Marxist ideology did everything to erase Christmas or at least root out the religious background of it as it considered religion one of the main enemies in the class struggle. And not surprisingly, it also started with renaming and replacing undesired words to bring forth the short atrophy of Christianity in society. For this cause the figure of ‘Grandpa Frost’ or ‘Grandpa Winter’ based on Ded Moroz’s (Дед Мороз) Slavic mythology was imported to the Hungarian public mind with the intention to replace Santa Clause, based on the story of Saint Nicholas, whose story was indeed deeply embedded in the Hungarian society by that time.
Guidelines were also adopted in the name of the anti-clerical struggle to eliminate the “misconceptions” of the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. In this evil spirit Christmas was renamed to Pine Festival and 26 December, the second day of Christmas was also abolished from non-working holidays.[V]
Therefore, it is no wonder that for us Hungarians, messing around Christmas brings out bitter memories and activates anti-regime reflexes.
As a result of an immediate public outcry because of the new speaking guideline—it is scary how similar the ‘Newspeak’ dictionary is to the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell – Brussels made a U-turn and dropped the new dictionary. ‘The guidelines clearly need more work. I, therefore, withdraw the guidelines and will work further on this document’, Equality Commissioner Mrs Dalli tweeted.[VI]
Anyway, it is seemingly hard for progressives to get into the Christmas spirit in this season. Norway’s state-owned postal service ‘Posten’ felt it would be heartwarming to depict Santa Claus as gay, kissing another man – distastefully sexualizing Christmas and desecrating the figure of Saint Nicholas.[VII] But EU’s LMBTQ+ goodwill ambassador (?) Riccardo Simonetti put the desecration bar up even higher posing as a bearded, transgender ‘Virgin Mary’ on a cover of a queer magazine.[VIII]
Now it is hard to believe that liberal progressives are not about to erase the Christian identity and traditions of Europe desecrating one of the most prominent holidays of the (Christian) world. For these, every conscientious, decent people would say: Hands off Our Christmas!
Dávid Nagy, researcher at Danube Institute
[I] EU Commission, #UnionOfEquality European Commission Guidelines for Inclusive Communication (Balkanweb, Nov. 2021)
https://www.balkanweb.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/europa.pdf, accessed 4 Dec. 2021
[II] Maia De La Baume, EU accused of trying to cancel Christmas! Advice on inclusive language dropped after criticism (Politico, 30 Nov. 2021)
https://www.politico.eu/article/european-commission-cancel-christmas-inclusive-language-lgbtq/, accessed 4 Dec. 2021
[IV] Kurt Sansone, It’s not true that you can’t use your name if it’s Maria… a misrepresented Brussels language guide (Malta Today, 30 Nov. 2021)
https://www.maltatoday.com.mt/news/europe/113563/its_not_true_that_you_cant_use_your_name_if_its_maria_a_misrepresented_brussels_language_guide#.YajRR9DMI2w, accessed 4 Dec. 2021
[V] Emese Horváth, Mi a különbség a Mikulás és a Télapó között? (Szeretlek Magyarország, 6 Dec. 2015)
https://www.szeretlekmagyarorszag.hu/multunk/mikulas-telapo-mi-a-kulonbseg/, accessed 4 Dec. 2021
[VI] Daniel Boffey, EU advice on inclusive language withdrawn after rightwing outcry (The Guardian, 30 Nov. 2021)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/nov/30/eu-advice-on-inclusive-language-withdrawn-after-rightwing-outcry, accessed 4 Dec. 2021
[VII] Gerrard Kaonga, Gay Santa Advert Branded ‘Creepy’ by Critics Who Say It Sexualizes Christmas (NewsWeek, 26 Nov. 2021)
https://www.newsweek.com/santa-claus-norway-ad-posten-norge-gay-christmas-homosexual-1653513, accessed 4 Dec. 2021
[VIII] Transznemű Máriaként állt modellt az Európai Parlament LMBTQ-ügyi nagykövete (Hetek, 2 Dec. 2021)
https://www.hetek.hu/cikkek/online/transznemu-mariakent-allt-modellt?fbclid=IwAR3K0XixuwqUltZ1b5V0IktjWUJt0cvb1iMX11jQuRxotghAN9c_mvb1W6I, accessed 4 Dec. 2021