If students at Norway’s Lesterud School in Oslo want to dance around the school’s Christmas tree, they’ll need signed permission slips from their parents.
School officials imposed the requirement in an effort to ensure no students are subjected to anything potentially religious their parents might object to, Express reports.
“We interpret going around the Christmas tree, which includes singing Christian songs, as an event that tends toward religious content,” school official Gry Hovland told the news site. “We want to protect ourselves and not cross any boundaries. That’s why we ask parents and guardians to give permission to go around the Christmas tree.”
Parents like Karianne Haug said they were surprised by the new opt-in format for the school’s Christmas celebrations because she contends the opt-out system worked well for years.
“It’s fine to ask to be exempt from the religious service, that has worked fine for years, but to have a check off permission to dance around the Christmas tree?” she said. “What will be nest? Where is the limit for how many considerations we should take? How makes these consideration, and for whom?”
Haug said she thinks the change will likely do more harm than good.
“Norwegian traditions are important, that’s how I see it,” she told the Express. “We live in a society with rapid changes and families that are splitting up.
“Traditions help to protect our children,” Haug said. “I think it creates a problem if all students, regardless of their beliefs, can’t gather around the Christmas tree – how harmful can it be?”