Outrage of the Week: Wings “Too Dangerous” for Kids to Wear in Nativity Play —

You know, every time I get one of these stories, a reader-angel earns her wings — in this case, a gal named Chrissy McKnight. The story she sent hails from nervous ol’ England, where a Catholic primary school has banned kids from wearing angel wings because the “health and safety of the children is paramount” and these wings these catch on fire. As a wing-supplier noted with justified self-interest: Isn’t the risk around candles that ANYTHING could catch on fire?

Perhaps next year’s nativity play should be performed in dive suits.  — Lenore

32 Responses

  1. Then ban candles. Pigtails can catch fire just as well as fake wings. From the headline, I was sure the issue would be kids jumping from great heights while wearing the wings. Kids can be dumb, there’s no denying that.

    But the adults are supposed to grow out of most of that dumb.

  2. Nah, the Brits will just cancel Christmas because it’s too dangerous. Added bonus: It avoids the whole “risk” of kids getting toys that might even be remotely “dangerous”.

    My eldest wants an EZ-bake oven for christmas. Mom and I decided to forgo the cheap (but not inexpensive) plastic thing that could maybe possibly burn the house down and buy her some cookbooks and instead show her how to operate our kitchen stove with *gasp* open flame burners.

    Heck, she’s almost 6, it’s high time she learned how to cook. I first used a gas stove unsupervised when I was 4 (OK, my parents were still in bed and were blissfully unaware, but that’s beside the point!).

  3. Well, the word “ban” is a little inflammatory (HA! didn’t notice the pun until after I wrote that) — the people in charge of the play decided not to use wings. Usually a “ban” is something imposed from above by the people not actually running something.

    But I digress….

    Yes, it seems silly. Can’t the kids just be kept away from the candles, or the candles not be lit during the play? ISTM the play’s not a form of liturgy so in any situation I’m aware of, there’s no religious necessity for candles to be lit during the play itself.

    BTW, I’m not an anti-candle freak, but teaching your own kids to be safe around candles is a different situation from dealing with a group of kids who may or may not have been taught appropriate safety. And regardless of whether there are wings, there will be flowing costumes and what have you.

  4. Kids and handheld open flames are usually a recipe for some kind of chaos. That’s legitimate risk (usually in the form of burns from molten wax, rather than the much less likely all-out inferno) Seriously, instead of ditching the wings, just go with battery-powered LED candles. That’s what many churches do.

  5. TCE, there doesn’t seem to be any mention of the kids actually holding candles. They’re just worried about the candles in the church. But you’re right, electric candles make much more sense in situations where the kids are actually handling them.

    BTW, “Ray” above was me — silly computer doesn’t know the difference between me and hubby!

  6. Dive suits are flammable AND and suffocation hazard, are you nuts!? Clearly its only safe to send them to school in giant hamster balls.

  7. Cybernetic entomologist — this might seem trivial, but the Brits have already tried banning Christmas, although they had some other rationale…

  8. @Wahoofive, the conclusion I seem to be drawing from the actions of the british government is that Britain is an EXTREMELY dangerous place to live or even visit, heaven forbid actually grow up in.

    @pentamom, good point, that little detail escaped me on first read. I seriously doubt that children under the age of 35 being within 500 yards of an open flame is even legal in the UK.

  9. The story you linked to was a Christmas 2007 nativity play. I worked in a Catholic school that year and we did a nativity in church, the angels had wings and there was an awful lot of candles around. No one caught fire.

  10. Banning them as some of the kids got scratched last year is bonkers.. My kids get scrapes, bruises, knocks etc all the time and they soon learn not to do whatever it was which caused said damage..

    As for the candles…… (sigh) Why not just move the candles away from the children during the Nativety play.. Or teach the kids not to go near them.. Surely teaching them to avoid hazards witl be more beneficial in the long run than removing the hazard.. Or it that too much like hard work???

  11. @Chrissy,

    I like to think of pain as nature’s way of telling kids (and adults) “Don’t do that, dumbass!”

  12. Given that it’s a Catholic primary school, I wonder if it was more that the teachers didn’t want to deal with kids running into each other and squabbling over wing conflicts.
    Isn’t there an episode of wing-conflict in _The Worst Christmas Pageant Ever_?

  13. I love that the defense is the Bible doesn’t say angels had wings. Actually the places in the Bible where it describes angels, they had six wings! So instead of not letting them wear wings, they should be giving them more wings!

  14. I’d rather my kids got the magic of real flame candles than costumes with angel wings – I really hate those battery powered “candles”. So I’m not a fan of the “don’t ban the wings, ban the candles” idea!

    But reading the article I think the adults that made this decision just think it’s too much bother to have angel wings. The “fire risk” seems like the excuse they’re focusing on to try to stop people badgering them to change their minds. When they’re mentioning things like “angels don’t have wings”, and “people were scratched last year”, etc. you’ve got to think they’re just clutching at straws.

  15. Yeah, we don’t want any “Fox-Four” (mid-air collision) incidents in school pageants!

  16. My pastor’s wife had her sweater ignite from a candle during a Christmas eve service (it was quickly extinguished, no one was hurt). Maybe we should ban all clothing.

  17. I thought they were going to ban wings so no one got poked in the eye.

  18. Seems like the risk assessment they did should have suggested they re-position those candles and put them in a safer place.

    But I guess they forgot to do a risk assessment on their limited ability to understand risk.

  19. Last night I was watching a Peter, Paul and Mary special thing on PBS from 1993? And there was a row of children holding candles. The real thing. And one of the boys was lighting all the rest! And no one caught fire. They were all very careful and standing still and minding their flames. It was amazing!

    As a comparison, last weekend I attended a performance of “The Singing Christmas Tree”, a local annual event in Portland, and there was a point where the majority of the singers were lined up along the auditorium walls, all holding candles.

    battery candles.

    They pretended to light the candle of hte person next to them by touching the plastic “flame” of theirs to the other person’s, and that person would slide up the switch to “light” their own candle.

    I think it would have been prettier with the real thing, but I guess even adults can’t be trusted with flames these days.

  20. Some kids got scratched, so they banned wings out of fear of candles. I love the logic!

    My 4 and 7 year old already get to light a candle sometimes. They learned very quickly that matches get hot fast. They also know that they will be in deep, deep trouble if they ever play with matches. But knowing how to use them and knowing that they need to be careful with fire is a great lesson.

  21. This is just crazy. Having children requires us to allow them to live life and learn how to handle situations. If we don’t allow them this space, what kind of future adults are we rearing??

  22. Well, wings are obviously a fire hazard, but so are most clothes (wonder why they’re not banning those..). Instead of banning the flammable object, they should’ve banned the candles during the performance or in the vicinity of the kids.

  23. Maybe PETA got in the act. Where did they get those feathers?
    One of my Scouts says PETA should mean “People Eating Tasty Animals”.

  24. Clothing can catch fire, so we should eliminate all clothing completely. Ditto drapes, blankets, and bedding. Wood also burns, so wooden buildings and furniture should be banned. All buildings and furnishings that children come in contact with should be made of non-flammable materials like stone or iron.

    The kid’s stone pillows and iron mattresses will be a little uncomfortable, and not particularly warm since they can’t use blankets, but what the heck, the kids will be safe, right?

  25. Marion, just make sure there’s no lead included in that iron- you know the kids might try to eat the beds.

  26. @The Cybernetic Entomologist: You just reminded me of a book I TOTALLY forgot I had – a kids cookbook… and how my mom and I would look up things to cook and actually make them on the stove. I was so proud of myself.

    I normally let my kids cook spaghetti (they’re 8 & 9). I generally drain the pot though (it’s way to heavy and full of scalding hot water), but all else – they do. I love their smiles when I thank them for making such a luscious dinner. 😀

  27. @TCE– We got our 3yo an EZ bake oven last year. I laughed when I read on the box that it’s for kids 8 and older. I was wondering who wouldn’t teach their kids to cook or bake with a REAL oven by the time they’re 8!

  28. Yikes–at our church the kids take turns being acolytes and light multiple candles every Sunday. Not that I’m unaware of the possible dangers, mind you. My pulpit robe has a small hole in one sleeve: the result of an unfortunate encounter with and Advent wreath candle a few years back …..

  29. Not quite sure why we are discussing a 2007 story. Let’s focus on what’s happening now, not in the past….

  30. somehow this reminds me of the fireworks bans, and the fact that the rate of injury for sparklers is much higher because they’re “safe” whereas anyone who grows a pair and goes and buys the dangerous stuff knows it’s dangerous and behaves accordingly.

  31. Marion, I like the idea of requiring non-flammable houses. But not metal…there must be a law somewhere banning metal in public places, lest a child lick it during the winter and end up with a stuck tongue. No risk too slight to guard against! 🙂

  32. I’ve just come back from my daughter carol concert and (SHOCK HORROR!!!!!) the older children were holding REAL candles.. after being told by the school not to touch the flames..

    It looked wonderful🙂

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