MONTPELIER – Now that the Vermont legislature has passed a bill changing Columbus Day to “Indigenous Peoples Day,” lawmakers are turning their gaze on another holiday that may not appeal to everyone: Christmas. The Columbus Day bill (S.68) is waiting for the governor’s signature, and he has pledged to sign it in exchange for a bill that would rid the state’s biggest holiday of its religious trappings and bring it closer to his vision of what Vermont truly is.
“Vermont is not a religious state,” Gov. Scott said at a breakfast for the Swanton Beaver Society. “And religion does not belong in government. The fact that we still celebrate a Christian holiday when our largest denomination in the state is ‘unaffiliated’ is a barrier to being fully inclusive to all Vermonters. We all celebrate Christmas, but so few do it in a religious manner. What we truly need to celebrate is the economic prosperity of the region during the month of December.”
Working closely with a tri-partisan committee of Republicans, Democrats, and Progressives, the governor has crafted a first draft of a bill that will have Vermont officially celebrate “Economic Prosperity Day” every December the 25th. Businesses would not be required to be open, but those that do would receive tax incentives from the state. State offices would remain closed, but employees would receive, in lieu of a Christmas Bonus, an “EPD Coupon” good at any store in Vermont on December 25th only.
“We want to reward people for patronizing our local vendors,” Gov. Scott said, “and at the same time begin to remove any religious holidays from our official government ledger. If you need to celebrate something this season, why not celebrate super savings and tax breaks!”
The Senate is expected to begin discussion of the bill next week, after the legislators finish celebrating Easter and/or Passover with their families.