Artist's impression of the centrepiece of this year's light-up. (Image: Orchard Road Business Association)

National Council of Churches voice concerns over Disney-themed Christmas decorations distracting from the real reason of the celebration

There was a bit of an upset yesterday from the National Council of Churches (NCC) about the Disney-themed Christmas decorations that went up on Orchard Road as we approach the holiday season.

In a letter to the Singapore Tourism Board, the NCC stated that the Disney characters which are part of the brightly lit decorations have “no meaningful connection” to the Christmas season which specifically ‘commemorates the incarnation and birth’ of Jesus. The letter goes on further to say that the NCC is deeply concerned about the “increasing secularisation and commercialisation” of Christmas in Singapore.

The decorations on Orchard Road are part of a three year collaboration between The Walt Disney Company Southeast Asia and STB while the Christmas campaign is led by the Orchard Road Business Association (Orba).

The NCC also wrote, “Christmas should not be viewed primarily as a money-making venture or an opportunity to market a particular commercial brand”. They went on to draw comparisons with other religious festivals in Singapore that are celebrated with less commercialisation and a higher emphasis on the religious component of the event such as Deepavali, Hari Raya, and Vesak Day.

The NCC clarified that though they aren’t against the use of Disney characters per se, they wondered if the focus should be on the Christian elements of the festival instead.

In response, STB Director for Dining and Retail Ranita sundra and Orba Executive Director Steven Goh told Marketing in a statement that the Orchard Road lights are just one of several components for the Christmas on a Great Street event which offers a range of experiences for different groups of visitors, both Christians and non-Christians.

“This year’s family-friendly, Disney-themed light-up follows the same approach, and is intended to complement the spirit of friendship and conviviality that we hope visitors will experience as they travel down Orchard Road,” the statement said.