Philadelphia's City Hall returned the word “Christmas” to an archway near a local holiday market after the city's archdiocese among others protested its initial removal.
On Nov. 30, city Managing Director Richard Negrin allegedly had the word “Christmas” taken off the 15 ft. archway leading to a German-style market just outside the City Hall. Negrin had apparently received complaints from an unspecified number of employees and visitors, according to the Philadelphia Daily News.
On Dec. 1, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia issued a statement condemning the removal of the word, which was written in small white lights.
“This decision is a stark example of the secularization that is obscuring the true meaning of the Christmas season,” the statement read, adding that true diversity respects all celebrations occurring this time of year.
“Christmas deserves its rightful place among those,” it added. “If we are truly to use common sense, we should understand that Christmas villages and trees are just that and not vague symbols of some nebulous winter 'holiday' devoid of meaning.”
News of the removal went viral after the Daily News reported on it, spawning a widespread negative reaction. In addition to the archdiocese's protest, local Councilwoman Joan Krajewski said the move pandered to political correctness and disrespected Christians.
The uproar over the sign began when locals saw workers taking the Christmas sign down on Monday. Thomas Bauer of German American Marketing Inc., which runs the village, said the removal was in "response to what the managing director … asked for."
However, Negrin, the city's managing director, denied that he had specifically asked for the word to be removed, saying he simply talked with Bauer about the complaints.
"He's a great guy who saw a problem, who was trying to help me," Negrin said.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said that although he hadn't been involved in previous conversations, he called Bauer and asked him to put the word “Christmas” back up.
"We'll have the full 'Christmas Village' sign back in place," Nutter told reporters on Dec. 2.
"I'm totally respectful of any of our public employees or citizens who have a complaint, whether about this or anything else,” the mayor said.
“At the same time, we have any number of employees and citizens … who enjoy this particular kind of commercial enterprise. The Christmas Village is not a religious service."