Please Tell Me if I'm a Whacko
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
For your consideration:

This is a draft of a letter I am planning to send to my son's school. He is in first grade. I know we're in the South now, but they are handing out Mardi Gras beads and there is some sort of dress up day next Tuesday, where the children and teachers can wear the "traditional" Mardi Gras colors of gold, purple, and green.

A little background - the first grade teacher is a Catholic and teaches a CCD class at our local parish (in town), which I sometimes attend if I don't make it to the Latin Mass in the next town. She also knows we are practicing Catholics.
Ironically, I asked if Mr. P could bring birthday cupcakes on St. Patrick's Day, since his birthday is in the summer; they have to check with the principal on that one! We celebrate St. Patrick's Day, but with a more religious sense, since St. Patrick is one of our family patrons.

So, am I way out of line and a total whacko? Is the letter too harsh, or not harsh enough? Any feedback and suggestions are welcome! Should I send a copy to the principal as well? I don't want the teacher to 'get in trouble', this is a school wide activity; but I feel that I must object.

Dear Mrs. Teacher,

Recently Mr P. came home from school and announced he had been learning about Mardi Gras. It is clear to me that he is learning about the secular celebration of Mardi Gras, rather than the traditional Christian celebration (also called Shrove Tuesday). He also let me know that he learned that the colors of the beads have special meaning – honesty, knowledge and power. He may have been mistaken, however, since the traditional values attributed to these colors during Mardi Gras are justice, faith, and power.

I find it unacceptable for the school to teach these values, associated with these colors, as a secular substitute for a religious holiday.

The traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green, and gold are actually Catholic liturgical colors. Purple stands for penance, as Lent is a time of penance and preparation for Easter. Gold is the color of rejoicing (that Christ is risen, also it is used at Christmas), and green is for “Ordinary Time” and represents growth.

Traditionally, Mardi Gras was the last day before Lent began, when households would use up their butter and sugar, which were forbidden during Lent due to the fast and abstinence laws of the Catholic Church. Thus, housewives would bake cakes and goodies, and the people would celebrate before the next 40 days of penance. It is intrinsically bound up with the Lenten season, as a preparation of Easter, both of which are Christian celebrations.

I understand that the public schools are forbidden from teaching about our Christian heritage, even as it applies to religious holidays; I must insist, therefore, that all education involving such holidays and liturgical colors be left to myself and my husband. The secular version of Mardi Gras also promotes heavy partying, drunkenness, and lewd behavior. I'm sure that these behaviors would not be promoted by the school, but by endorsing the celebration of Mardi Gras while removing any religious significance, the school is promoting this holiday as it is typically celebrated in America.

Mr. P is not to participate in any Mardi Gras celebrations at school or to be exposed to any lessons that include the so-called values of "knowledge" and "power".


Mr. P's Mom.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 2/14/2007 10:34:00 AM | Permalink | |