Over the past few years, the US has endured some controversy over municipal trees being called “Holiday Trees” instead of “Christmas Trees.” Christians have objected to the name of their holiday being obscured in such an ambiguous term. In 2005, Boston was the site of a controversy over the naming of the tree. The man who donated the tree even said that had he known it would not be called a “Christmas Tree,” he would not have given it to the city.
At the time, a representative of House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert said, “To rename a Christmas tree as a holiday tree is as offensive as renaming a Jewish menorah a candlestick” (link). [See here for the Wikipedia entry on the subject: link]
I’ll go one step further. While Christians consider the renaming of the holiday symbol an affront to their religion, I find it offensive to my Judaism. The implication is that the tree is a symbol of the various holidays celebrated in America, most notably Hanukkah that generally falls out around the same time as the Christian holiday (particularly this year). The tree is not. It has nothing to do with Judaism, Chanukah or any of our holidays. Regardless of its historical origin, the tree has come to be a symbol of one of the most important Christian holidays. Using an ambiguous term that implies it has significance to Judaism is, in my opinion, extremely offensive to Jews (and presumably members of other religions) and is simply inaccurate.
(Note that the illustration above is the cover of a book I have not read: link)
(Adapted from a 2005 post)
Submit a Response
You must be logged in to submit a response.