NCCS concerned about ‘commercial’ Disney-theme Christmas light-up on Orchard Road

Disney-theme 2018 Christmas light-up on Orchard Road (PHOTO: Orchard Road Business Association)

The National Council of Churches of Singapore (NCCS) has expressed concern about the Disney-theme Christmas light-up along Orchard Road, saying that it reflects the increasing commercialisation of the festival.

In a letter to the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) signed off by NCCS General Secretary Rev Dr Ngoei Foong Nghian, NCCS said, “We are concerned that the light-up, with its exclusive focus on Disney characters, has no meaningful connection to the season of Christmas.

“Christmas, at its heart, is a festival in the Christian calendar, which commemorates the incarnation and birth of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”

NCCS recognises and welcomes that Christmas is widely celebrated in Singapore by people who are not Christians as a period of feasting, gift-giving and spending time with family and friends. It also understands the “legitimate interests” of the STB and the Orchard Road Business Association to leverage on the festive holiday to draw more tourists and Singaporeans to spend at Orchard Road.

“The NCCS is, however, deeply concerned about the increasing secularisation and commercialisation of Christmas in Singapore. Being an essentially religious festival, Christmas should not be viewed primarily as a money-making venture or an opportunity to market a particular commercial brand,” NCCS said in the letter dated Monday (18 November).

At the same time, NCCS noted that the public celebration of other religious festivals such as Deepavali, Hari Raya Puasa and Vesak Day are carried out with much less commercialisation and greater emphasis on their religious nature.

“We are not against the use of Disney characters per se, but we wonder if they should be the sole focus of what is essentially a Christian festival. The original meaning of Christmas has been effectively buried under the thick layer of this extensive and sophisticated brand promotion exercise,” NCCS said.

NCCS added that it hopes its views will be considered when planning for future Christmas celebrations in Singapore, given that STB has a three-year partnership with Disney.

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