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Holiday Tree instead of Christmas tree?


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It hasn't always been called a Christmas Tree, because historians believe that there's a very high probability that the tree tradition has non-Christian roots (like the pun?). During the Roman winter holiday of Saturnalia, pagans decorated their houses with clippings of evergreen shrubs and adorned living trees with ornaments. In around the 3rd century, Tertullian complained that too many fellow of his Christians had copied the Pagan practice of adorning their houses with lamps and with wreathes of laurel at Christmas time. The Romans weren't the only ones to place significance on trees for their winter holidays. Northern Europeans also decorated with evergreen boughs and had a Yule log.

 

So no, it isn't uniquely Christian. Quite the opposite, by most accounts. Why get so uptight any time someone wants to be inclusive of other religions instead of setting one particular religious tradition above others? Particularly since this has to do with government.

Edited by Skadi
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It hasn't always been called a Christmas Tree, because historians believe that there's a very high probability that the tree tradition has non-Christian roots (like the pun?). During the Roman winter holiday of Saturnalia, pagans decorated their houses with clippings of evergreen shrubs and adorned living trees with ornaments. In around the 3rd century, Tertullian complained that too many fellow of his Christians had copied the Pagan practice of adorning their houses with lamps and with wreathes of laurel at Christmas time. The Romans weren't the only ones to place significance on trees for their winter holidays. Northern Europeans also decorated with evergreen boughs and had a Yule log.

 

So no, it isn't uniquely Christian. Quite the opposite, by most accounts. Why get so uptight any time someone wants to be inclusive of other religions instead of setting one particular religious tradition above others? Particularly since this has to do with government.

 

I suppose because it seems that they are forever trying to change things. Calling it a Christmas tree is not harming anyone. If a pagan wanted to call it a holiday tree then fine by me. But labeling it as a holiday tree bothers me. I think they are trying too hard with their political correctness. They are way overstretching here.

 

And with that I've got to hit the hay. I actually have not been to bed yet, and I'll only get about 3 hours at this point if I'm lucky. :tongue_smilie:

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So is the giant menorah they light at the mall here a Holiday Menorah?

 

It's all just ridiculous to me.

 

I asked my husband the exact same thing this morning! All of this makes me very grumpy. I'd rather there not be any trees/menorahs - whatever the symbol is - than deal with all this bickering every. stinking. year.

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It's a Christmas tree. It's been called a Christmas tree for at least a couple of hundred years. It isn't a "holiday" tree. Christmas is the only holiday in December that uses a tree like this. Calling it a "holiday" tree is just stupid.

 

Not that I'm the least bit opinionated about it.

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Wasn't the country built on God We Trust? It is a Christmas tree and I care less where that came from because that is what it is period. For everyone who wants religious freedom why are they constantly taking Christ away from things? We celebrate it to honor Christ. If other people don't like it fine. This is all just stupid junk.

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Guest submarines
I used to be more PC than I am now, and it is things like this that changed me. Because it became obvious that the principle is not 'include everyone, offend no one' but rather 'exclude references to Christianity, but not references to every other belief system'. And that is just plain unacceptable.

:iagree:

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I don't really care what they call it, it is what it is. In my house it's a Christmas tree, if someone else wants to call it a holiday tree, so be it. It's a free country. :D

 

No not anymore it's not. Everyone is so worried they have basically done away with what this country was built on. It is sad really. All the damage the first white people did to the Indians only to basically end up almost where they were.

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I don't really care what they call it, it is what it is. In my house it's a Christmas tree, if someone else wants to call it a holiday tree, so be it. It's a free country. :D

It isn't a "free" country when any group cannot call something what it is for fear of reprisals.

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I used to be more PC than I am now, and it is things like this that changed me. Because it became obvious that the principle is not 'include everyone, offend no one' but rather 'exclude references to Christianity, but not references to every other belief system'. And that is just plain unacceptable.

 

:iagree: If there are practicing pagans who want to be included with the Christmas Tree, then I suppose "Holiday Tree" might be okay, but the objections usually come from the Atheists, not the practicing pagans. Why would Atheists want to be part of a Christmas/Holiday tree?

 

Honestly, I don't see why local governments even bother with the tree anymore. It doesn't seem worth it. Now if they were protesting a CHRISTMAS tree outside a Christian Mayor/Governor's house, THEN I would be...really upset (euphemistic phrase for something I'm not sure I'm allowed to post on here.) I'm more bothered by a supposedly Christian President choosing "Holiday" over "Christmas" on his own front yard. (No, I don't think he's a Muslim, but he's not really a practicing Christian either. He has said numerous times that his own personal salvation is dependent on the collective salvation of the country based on the country's actions, and he has given no indication that he thinks the collective salvation has happened yet.)

Edited by theYoungerMrsWarde
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No not anymore it's not. Everyone is so worried they have basically done away with what this country was built on. It is sad really. All the damage the first white people did to the Indians only to basically end up almost where they were.

 

:confused:

 

Rhode Island was built on the value of religious freedom and tolerance. (Essentially, it was where people went to escape the religious control of the Massachusetts colony.) Being inclusive of those who celebrate Solstice as their winter holiday is entirely in keeping with the spirit on which Rhode Island was built.

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:confused:

 

Rhode Island was built on the value of religious freedom and tolerance. (Essentially, it was where people went to escape the religious control of the Massachusetts colony.) Being inclusive of those who celebrate Solstice as their winter holiday is entirely in keeping with the spirit on which Rhode Island was built.

 

This.

Roger Williams, the founder of RI, was banished from the MA colony for his beliefs in religious freedoms and separation of church/state. A RI "holiday tree" is definitely in keeping with its founding.

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I guess I don't understand what you are saying, then. I'm saying that to call a Christmas Tree a Holiday Tree is the same as calling a Chanuka menorah a Holiday menorah, like it could apply to any vague holiday.

 

I think I misunderstood you as well.

 

In my experience, non-Jewish people generally just call them menorahs. I don't hear the phrase "Chanuka menorah." So, the equivalent way to refer to a Christmas tree would just be a tree.

 

I also think the menorah is different from the tree because (to my knowledge) there is no other holiday that uses a menorah. There is another holiday that involves a decorated evergreen tree.

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I think I misunderstood you as well.

 

In my experience, non-Jewish people generally just call them menorahs. I don't hear the phrase "Chanuka menorah." So, the equivalent way to refer to a Christmas tree would just be a tree.

 

I also think the menorah is different from the tree because (to my knowledge) there is no other holiday that uses a menorah. There is another holiday that involves a decorated evergreen tree.

 

Okay, I get what you are saying. I guess, I'm more of the opinion of "When in Rome". If 80% of the population of a city is Christian, I don't have a problem with them putting up a tree in the middle of the town and decorating it with bulbs and calling it a Christmas Tree. I only know one family that celebrates the winter solstice in a pagan way, and they would even refer to a city's display as a Christmas tree. Personally, I think we should all just call it a Saturalia tree and be done with it! :D

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I think I misunderstood you as well.

 

In my experience, non-Jewish people generally just call them menorahs. I don't hear the phrase "Chanuka menorah." So, the equivalent way to refer to a Christmas tree would just be a tree.

 

I also think the menorah is different from the tree because (to my knowledge) there is no other holiday that uses a menorah. There is another holiday that involves a decorated evergreen tree.

 

Okay, I get what you are saying. I guess, I'm more of the opinion of "When in Rome". If 80% of the population of a city is Christian, I don't have a problem with them putting up a tree in the middle of the town and decorating it with bulbs and calling it a Christmas Tree. I only know one family that celebrates the winter solstice in a pagan way, and they would even refer to a city's display as a Christmas tree. Personally, I think we should all just call it a Saturnalia tree and be done with it! :D

 

 

Don't know what happened- I edited for spelling and it posted twice!

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What is the big deal here! There is a BIG controversy going on right now in my state over this.

 

Why would anyone of a different faith or background have a problem with it being called a Christmas Tree. That's what it's always been.

 

Call it a "Holiday" tree... and remind them that it's a "Holy Tree" that they are purchasing. :) If I were a farmer, I'd immediately have "holiday trees" this year, since aren't Christmas trees being taxed? :)

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Just because someone is an atheist doesn't mean we don't want to celebrate a winter holiday. It just means that we don't need it to be a religious one, at least in my case that's what it means.

 

For me, an atheist, I celebrate the joy that my family has brought me throughout the year, the love we have for one another and because giving gifts and getting together with friends and family is just darn fun. I have a tree which we call a Festivus tree, we start giving gifts on the winter solstice because we very much dislike the short days and want to celebrate that fact that with each coming day there are more light hours. The kids get to have 1 gift a day from solstice until the 25th and then they get to open whatever is left. Why did we pick the 25th, because the rest of our family is mostly Christian and that's when they do gift exchange etc. We did it to try to make things easier for them, for many it's hard enough that we don't celebrate the religious christmas.

 

What I don't get it why some Christians get so wound up because some public place wants to call it a Holiday Tree instead, how does it hurt you? Does it make you feel any less strongly about your faith?

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What I don't get it why some Christians get so wound up because some public place wants to call it a Holiday Tree instead, how does it hurt you? Does it make you feel any less strongly about your faith?

 

 

I don't have a problem with a Holiday tree. I can still call it whatever name I want " Look at the festively decorated pine tree!" I think though, the concern I often hear is what if it had been originally called a Holiday tree by a certain group of people and then some wanted the name changed to something different? Would the inclusiveness work both ways?

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Isn't it supposed to be a pole? :tongue_smilie:

 

We don't actually celebrate the Constanza holiday of Festivus. My kids decided to call it a Festivus tree because to them it's a festive day. They've never even seen Seinfeld. Dh did let them in on the connection and they thought it was kind of funny. Plus a pole isn't any fun to decorate :tongue_smilie:

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I don't have a problem with a Holiday tree. I can still call it whatever name I want " Look at the festively decorated pine tree!" I think though, the concern I often hear is what if it had been originally called a Holiday tree by a certain group of people and then some wanted the name changed to something different? Would the inclusiveness work both ways?

 

I don't see how Holiday Tree or Happy Holidays is alienating Christians, to me both statements mean they are including anyone who wants to celebrate some sort of holiday at that particular time of year.

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I don't see how Holiday Tree or Happy Holidays is alienating Christians, to me both statements mean they are including anyone who wants to celebrate some sort of holiday at that particular time of year.

 

 

Well dangit! Don't you see its taking Christ out of Christmas! This is the argument I hear. I am not trying to belittle people who feel that way. Just repeating what I have heard others say. :leaving:

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I think it is an attempt to enforce non-religious displays by the government. Therefore, government needs to decide if Christmas (which has the word Christ in the actual holiday name and for which it is obvious what the tradition has been for this United States) and Easter should even be federal holidays. If the interpretation of the US Constitution is such that the separation of church and state clause (which actually has to do with the government's obligation to guarantee religious freedom and its prohibition to not establish a "state" church as many countries have ie. Denmark, Great Britain, etc.), indicates to them that the government should not use religious symbols on government property, then they need to take a stark look at the tradition. If having to rename 200+ year old cultural symbols (from the US and going back much further than that for Europe and the near East) in order to erase any hint of state established religion ie. to sanitize the tradition to be secular, then the government needs to consider the message that it gives the people and whether or not that even goes far enough. Possibly, if it offends that many people that cultural renaming must take place, then very likely the government just needs to get out of the business of celebrating holidays with religious connotations.

 

The outcome would be that all government buildings would not be decorated in traditional cultural garb, no holiday displays would be on the premises, and employees would not get the day off if it occurred on a weekday since that could be seen as the establishing of a preference for one religion over another. This would mean Christmas and Easter would no longer be federal holidays. I guarantee you that this would not be popular with people. People want their cake and eat it to...as in, I don't want the government to establish or promote any one religion over another, but I still want historically religious holidays off!

 

It's a difficult, slippery slope. All other federal holidays have a historical, but not religious reasons for their existence. There is no federal holiday for Ramadan, Hannukah, etc. If the government chose to rename the holiday the "Yule Celebration" or something similar, it would then give the appearance of promoting paganism over the other religions. If the point is to not promote religion, then this practice cannot be condoned either. No matter how you slice it, the decorating of evergreen trees in December is religiously biased. It's either a Christmas tradition or a Pagan tradition. It is not a tradition that is uniquely unyoked to a religious belief historically even if some people choose to celebrate it without religious affiliation.

 

No matter how you trace it, the origins are distinctly religious and for the majority of the population, the holiday - however they do or do not celebrate it - conjures up religious connotations. Therefore, if the culture has changed enough in its traditions, sensibilities, and religious make-up enough that it is no longer possible to call it a Christmas Tree or a Yule Tree without trampling the religious freedom clauses of the Constitution and the free-exercise thereof for the citizenry, then government might be best off to get out of the Christmas and Easter traditions entirely.

 

How's that for being the Grinch that Stole Christmas? :D

 

I don't see our government as an entity as Pagan, Christian, Judaic, Islamic, Hindu, or any other faith/belief system though obviously the individuals that work in the government have all manner of belief systems. So, it would not bother me one single bit if there were no holiday decorations of any kind on display. I actually think they'd be far better off, albeit boring, to leave that to the private sector.

 

Faith

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So, it would not bother me one single bit if there were no holiday decorations of any kind on display. I actually think they'd be far better off, albeit boring, to leave that to the private sector.

 

Faith

 

I'm kind of with you on this. Why does any government entity need to decorate for a holiday, anyway? But, even so, I'm pretty sure Easter is not considered a Federal holiday. It's just that pesky Christmas that still forces the non-separation of church and state. But, a day off is a day off! Call it whatever you want, I still would like a Federal holiday sometime in December!

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This would mean Christmas and Easter would no longer be federal holidays. I guarantee you that this would not be popular with people. People want their cake and eat it to...as in, I don't want the government to establish or promote any one religion over another, but I still want historically religious holidays off!

 

Faith

 

Easter (nor is Good Friday) is not a federal holiday. Why Christmas? I guess because it's really two holidays. One, for Christians who celebrate Christ's birth, and two, the secular national holiday that most Americans celebrate, with Santa, etc. Caveat: I don't necessarily think it should be this way, it's just the way I see it as being.... hope that makes sense.

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Wasn't the country built on God We Trust? It is a Christmas tree and I care less where that came from because that is what it is period. For everyone who wants religious freedom why are they constantly taking Christ away from things? We celebrate it to honor Christ. If other people don't like it fine. This is all just stupid junk.

 

And there are many Christians, current and prior, who found the Christmas tree absolutely the opposite of "honoring Christ." It really does seem that a lot of the insistence on everything constantly overtly (and even aggressively) being "Christian" in the public sphere seems a bit at odds with Matthew 6.

 

Personally, we are Neopagan UUs and have two trees---a Solstice tree (our religious holiday) and a Christmas tree (which we decorate with family keepsakes). We celebrate Solstice (on the appropriate day) in one way and Christmas with another----in our case, Santa stockings and joining family in the secular American holiday that has grown up alongside the religious holiday, as well as with family who celebrate it as a religious holiday. IMO, government agencies should stick to decorating for and celebrating civic holidays (4th of July, etc) and leave religious holidays to the followers of the various religions (and retailers seeking to profit from such ;)). That does beg the question of how much of what we consider "Christmas" is in fact a secular American holiday pretty unrelated to anything religious and whether those portions would qualify as a civic holiday.

 

As a point of fact, no, the country was not "built on God We Trust." That phrase did not become the US motto in the 1950s (not coincidentally also the era remembered for McCarthy, IMO)--http://www.treasury.gov/about/education/Pages/in-god-we-trust.aspx Similarly, "under God" was not added to the Pledge of Allegiance until the 1950s (again, remember McCarthy and the fear of "Godless Commies," where being very overtly Christian was necessary to be "a good American" and prevent being labeled Communist and persecuted) http://www.ushistory.org/documents/pledge.htm.

 

We should also include The US Treaty of Tripoli, 1797, signed by George Washington and ratified by a Congress including many of the Founding Fathers, which states, in Article 11 --"As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,..."

http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/bar1796t.asp#art11

Edited by KarenNC
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If they're not pulling out the tree for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, and so on, then it's not a holiday tree. It's a Christmas tree. The tree is named for the holiday when it's used.

 

Again, holiday is derived from "Holy Day." So, Halloween and Fourth of July are only "holidays" because the word has been secularized. Really, calling it a holiday tree or Christmas tree? Same thing, really.

Edited by Mrs Mungo
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I think holiday, cultural and religious decorations are wonderful.... bring them on and make them diverse and reflective of your community.

 

I would not go around renaming things to pacify one group or another - it is a slippery slope and somewhat offensive to the group the symbol is predominantly used by.

 

I am a non religious theist (there is a mouth full) and I say call it a Christmas Tree.

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I shouldn't have listed Easter as a "federal holiday". I just tend to think of it this way because since so many people demand Good Friday off for day time services, most of our local government buildings end up being closed from Noon - 2:00 p.m. on Good Friday and the signs read, "Close for Good Friday Observances". They probably shouldn't be doing that. But, the management can't keep it staffed because EVERYBODY uses personal time for that two hours whether they observe Good Friday or not. Don't go to the courthouse on Good Friday during your lunch break...you won't find a soul in the place with the possible exception of security! :001_smile:

 

Faith

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I shouldn't have listed Easter as a "federal holiday". I just tend to think of it this way because since so many people demand Good Friday off for day time services, most of our local government buildings end up being closed from Noon - 2:00 p.m. on Good Friday and the signs read, "Close for Good Friday Observances". They probably shouldn't be doing that. But, the management can't keep it staffed because EVERYBODY uses personal time for that two hours whether they observe Good Friday or not. Don't go to the courthouse on Good Friday during your lunch break...you won't find a soul in the place with the possible exception of security! :001_smile:

 

Faith

 

That's so true! My husband, although he's Jewish, loves Good Friday for some reason. Probably because he doesn't have 9:00 hearings that day, after his Thursday night poker game!

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Much ado about nothing if you ask me. I call the thing that stands in my living room every Dec. a Christmas Tree and I'm pretty agnostic these days. I don't really care what anybody else calls theirs. Maybe governments should call it a holiday tree or just not decorate at all for anything other than Patriotic holidays.

 

 

I think there are way too many people in this country looking for things to be offended over on all sides. Well, at least on the atheist and Christian sides, anyway. I haven't heard of many Buddhists out there complaining about stuff that in the grand scheme of things seem so very unimportant.

 

I could be wrong, but I think the Pennsylvania Colony was also founded with the idea of religious Freedom.

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Ugh. A friend of mine posted on Facebook that we should use "Holiday Tree" so as not to offend Jews and Muslims. I think that Jews would be pretty offended if we insisted that they celebrate Funuchah so as not to offend members of other religions.

 

As far as I know, there is no pagan tree type thing in our town, but I am sure no one would object to one. There are any number of public Christmas trees, and a Really Big public menorah outside city hall.

 

In general, that seems more the approach here - not to sanitize any religious festival, but let everyone pretty much have their religious festivals with a public aspect if they choose.

 

What's interesting to me is that compared to much of the US, our population is pretty secular - non-religious people or nominally religious are probably in the majority.

 

What would really bother me about a trend to things like "holiday tree" is that it isn't actually a neutral act. There is an idea that a separation of church and state means that the state stays absolutly neutral and simply refrains from promoting any one religion. That isn't really what happens though - what I guess might be called secularism takes on a kind of world-view status of its own, a sort of humanism divorced from any religious roots. So the state ends up promoting that rather than being really neutral.

 

It can also end up as a kind of quest to simply avoid any public acknowledgment of the big questions in life, which really ends of stripping life of a lot of it's meaning - the search for spiritual truth is a profoundly human endeavor. I think that taken to a logical conclusion this would even end up affecting non-religious celebrations - after all they also represent values and we don't all share those.

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