Holiday Trees and Winter Candelabra

Calling a Christmas tree a “holiday tree” is like calling a Hanukkah menorah a “winter candelabrum.” Generic names for well-known holiday symbols don’t truly honor diversity. Instead, they “airbrush out” the meaning of experiences, traditions, and symbols that are part of people’s lives and cultures.

Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn recently pointed out, “…In their own day, the 13 American colonies were among the most religiously diverse places on Earth. Yet for all the frictions and flaws, the understanding they bequeathed us in the First Amendment helped shield America from the disastrous religious wars that plagued Europe, not to mention the ones still causing bloodletting in the Middle East.”

By preventing the federal government from imposing or prohibiting religious beliefs and practices, the framers of the Constitution not only defended the rightful freedom of hearts, minds, and souls, but also Americans’ ability to keep traditions and celebrations associated with faith.

American tolerance shouldn’t be understood to mean we can’t celebrate openly or say the word “Christmas” in public. It’s a quirky postmodern phenomenon to be timid about naming the season of good cheer. Authentic respect for our various beliefs involves honoring the truth about the origins and meaning of our traditions and learning about each other. Let us take a moment to remember our freedoms as we gaze at our Christmas trees this holiday season. A Merry Christmas to all!

Kathryn Hickok is Publications Director and Director of the Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland program at Cascade Policy Institute.

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Religon, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 818 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • DavidAppell

    How about we all stop telling each other what words to use? I’ll use mine, you use yours, OK? Problem solved.

    • guest

      Harpy New Year DA!
      Me ois vaxen svi a tsibele miten cup in vant!

  • HBguy

    So, are you saying I have to tell you Merry Christmas if I see you? What if I don’t want to? Can you make me? If I say Happy Holidays, will you be offended?

    Can you wear a pin saying you prefer to be told Merry Christmas, that way, if I see you on the street, I will be more than happy to accommodate you. It really doesn’t bother me at all.

    I know that toxic show hosts in the political entertainment industry like to get people all ginned up with mythical things like a “war on Christmas”. It increases their ratings amongst viewers with marginal critial thinking skills and lack of breadth of curioisty. But can we please leave that hysteria to those folks. Most readers of this blog are more intelligent and interested in real issues.

  • 3H

    If I happen to have a lamp (menorah) that holds seven, or nine, candles is there any good reason why I can’t call it a candelabra? I’m most likely to do that since I’m not Jewish, and I wouldn’t be using it to celebrate Hannukah.

    If I have a holiday tree, or a solstice tree, that doesn’t stop me from acknowledging that you have a Christmas tree. It can be called both, yes? I can honor and respect your beliefs while practicing mine. Simply because you see it as a Christmas tree does not mean that everyone else has to as well.

    Nothing is being airbrushed. However, if you feel that strongly, perhaps you should do some research and help revert many of our Holiday symbols to the religions and beliefs they originally sprang from.

    Happy Holidays to you.

  • scatcatpdx

    I cant totally agree as a devote Christian.
    It is not the job of the state to help us cerebrate Christmas. A proper understanding of the First amendment, I would say its not of the states business. So, if the state put up a holiday tree,or ban nativity scenes on public property, no problem with me after all its throwing peals among the swine. Christmas trees and nativity belong in our churches but it is in our churches Christ and the Gospel is being set aside by those who turn America into Idol. It not our job to force “christian values” even if such foolishness is remotely possible, our job is to proclaim Christ and him crucified to a fallen world.

  • valley person

    Wasn’t the tradition of bringing evergreen trees into the home and lighting them with candles (pre fire codes) started by pagans in the Nordic nations? And didn’t Christianity simply adopt this custom and change its meaning, as it has done with many customs of pagan people in many parts of the world?

    • Merry Christmas

      You mean like back when the word, Holiday, meant Holy Day? As in Christian religious festival?
      PS Wikipedia has a nice write-up on the Christmas tree. Check it out!

      Happy Holy Days, 3H and valley person!

      • 3H

        Yes.. amazing how things change and take on new meanings.

        It may refer to a Christian religious festival… or any of a number of other pagan religious days centered on the winter solstice.

        So, Happy Holidays to you; and the best part, you get to pick which one you prefer. See how that works?

        No need to try and make the season exclusive to Christians. Why would you want to?

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