The Holiday Tree Fallacy

To the Readers’ Forum:

People criticize Christmas decorations on public property for a number of reasons. Some support a different religion, or no religion at all. Some don’t want their tax dollars being put toward religious things. Some just want other faiths to be recognized in the same way. While I personally have no problem with public Christmas displays, I can understand some of those arguments.

The “holiday tree,” however, is a completely different issue. Instead of protesting publicly displayed Christmas trees, some people have simply changed the name. This is a grossly irresponsible thing to do.

Many faiths are associated with specific holidays. And many of those holidays are linked to specific rituals or symbols. The Christian faith celebrates the birth of Christ with Christmas, and one of its many traditions involves decorating a Christmas tree. This tree is not traditionally used in other holidays. So it only makes sense to call it a Christmas tree. Calling it a “holiday tree” completely strips it from the holiday it was intended for and distributes it to other holidays that don’t even use it.

The Jewish faith celebrates Hanukkah, which involves lighting a Menorah. But would we ever call it a “holiday Menorah”? It certainly wouldn’t make sense to, since the Menorah belongs to the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. How arrogant would it be to steal something that clearly belongs to Judaism and start generalizing it in a way that completely dilutes its meaning and purpose? The Christmas tree has been wronged in the same way, because a Christmas tree belongs to Christmas.

If you don’t want a Christmas tree displayed on public property, then just say so, and provide a reason. People like me may still disagree because we are different people with different values, and that’s OK. But stealing a symbol from one holiday and applying it to all holidays is not a sensible solution, and is actually more offensive than protesting it. Society has stripped the Christmas holiday of one of its symbols, distributed it to other holidays that have never used it in the past, and assumed the whole time that people of other faiths would even want it.

If the goal is to have a politically correct symbol that represents all holidays, then make up a new one. Don’t steal one and change its name. That’s a fake solution. Everyone knows what it really is it’s a Christmas tree. Calling it a “holiday tree” is just avoiding the real issue.

Rick Hammond