Fact Check: The European Commission Did NOT Try To Ban The Word 'Christmas' From Vocabulary

Fact Check

  • de: Jurnaliștii Lead Stories
Fact Check: The European Commission Did NOT Try To Ban The Word 'Christmas' From Vocabulary Can't Do That

Did the European Commission try to ban the word "Christmas," as well as "mother" and "father" from citizens' vocabulary? No, that's not true: The Commission has no right to do so, as the right to freedom of expression is enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights. The claim relates to a guide for internal communication among the Commission's staff from 2021, meant to increase equality and recognition through inclusive communication. The document, subsequently withdrawn, merely mentioned not to assume that everyone is Christian and automatically celebrates Christmas, and instead suggested using the more general term "holidays."

The claim originated from a video (archived here) that was published on TikTok by user @sptnk_necenzurat on December 15, 2023. The caption (translated from Romanian into English by Lead Stories staff) reads:

The European Commission, a disaster for Romanian identity: A commissioner tried to remove the word 'Christmas,' as well as 'mother' and 'father,' in an effort to reform our vocabulary.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2024-01-04 at 12.07.32.png(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Thu Jan 4 07:57:08 2024 UTC)

The European Commission has no authority or jurisdiction over the freedom of speech of EU citizens and does not hold the right to reform people's vocabulary. According to the EU's fundamental rights (archived here), everyone has the right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This right is enshrined in Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights.

The claim in the TikTok refers to a guide for internal communication by the Commission staff from 2021, spearheaded by Equality Commissioner, Helena Dalli (archived here). The document was part of a plan championed by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to implement a "Union of Equality" (archived here) and make sure that "everyone is valued and recognized in all our material regardless of their gender, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation." Some examples from the document included asking officials to "never address an audience as 'ladies and gentlemen' but use expressions such as 'Dear colleagues.'"

Suggestions also included avoiding "assuming that everyone is Christian." "Not everyone celebrates the Christian holidays, and not all Christians celebrate them on the same dates," stated the document. It advised staff to avoid sentences such as "Christmas time can be stressful" and instead use "Holiday times can be stressful." It also suggested not to use the expression "Christian names" and to use "first name" or "forename" instead, as well as not using names "that are typically from one religion." The guidelines also recommended avoiding the use of "gendered words" such as "man-made fabrics," which should be replaced with more generic terms such as "synthetic fabrics." Through various searches (archived here) of press coverage on the subject, no evidence was found to suggest that the internal document included plans to remove the words "mother" and "father" for more gender-neutral options for parents.

The document created so much fury, backlash, and criticism that Dalli had to backtrack, and it was dropped, as she wrote in a post on Twitter (now X) on November 30, 2021, (see screenshot below), and as also was reported by the media here (archived here), and here, (archived here) for example.

Schermata 2024-01-22 alle 14.41.46.png

(Source: X Screenshot taken on Mon Jan 22 13:41:61 2024 UTC)

  Lead Stories Staff

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