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Monday, November 9, 1998 Published at 11:41 GMT


UK

Winterval gets frosty reception

Birmingham: Multi-racial community

Church leaders have clashed with a council over its decision to call Christmas festivities Winterval.


Archdeacon Barton: "A potty name"
Birmingham City Council used the phrase to describe its programme of festive family events over Christmas and the New Year.

The change is being made because city council officials hope to create a more multi-cultural atmosphere in keeping with the city's mix of ethnic groups.


The BBC's Bob Sinkinson examines local reaction to Winterval
But critics have attacked the move as political correctness gone mad and have accused council officials of trying to take the Christ out of Christmas.

'Christianity censored'

Winterval has particularly exasperated the Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Rev Mark Santer.


[ image: Dr Santer: Amused by name]
Dr Santer: Amused by name
In a message to all the churches and clergy in his diocese, he said: "I wonder what madness is in store for us this Christmas?

"I confess I laughed out loud when our city council came out with Winterval as a way of not talking about Christmas.

"No doubt it was a well-meaning attempt not to offend, not to exclude, not to say anything at all."

The message continues: "Now it seems, the secular world, which expresses respect for all, is actually embarrassed by faith. Or perhaps it is Christianity which is censored."

Political correctness

His views were shared by his colleague, the Archdeacon of Aston, the Ven John Barton.

"It is a totally unnecessary example of political correctness to avoid sensitivities people simply do not have," he said.

A council spokeswoman defended the name. "Birmingham City Council wants people to celebrate Christmas. Christmas is the very heart of Winterval," she said.

"Far from not talking about Christmas the events within Winterval and the publicity material for it are covered in Christmas greetings and traditional images, including angels and carol singers."

She said the council had drawn attention to the city's cathedral during the festival by placing Christmas lights in the trees around the building.



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