Saturday, December 17, 2011

Merry “Holiday”

Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about what to call the tree associated with an impending holiday. In the United States, separation between church and state is taken very seriously. To the point, in fact, where the tree-lighting ceremony where I live was for a “holiday tree.”

Some people were upset about it. They felt it was part of a war on Christmas and while I don’t believe in such an attack, I think they’re right about the nonsense of it all. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet and a conifer decorated with lights and ornaments is still a Christmas tree. But since a Christmas tree can be considered endorsement of religion, they adhere to the letter of the law, but not the spirit, by making it a Holiday tree. For all the other December holidays that use trees.

I don’t want to exclude anyone, but is it really so terrible to call it what it is? I know the tree and Santa Claus are both enmeshed with the religious aspects, but they are also icons onto themselves. I’m not Christian (although I’m descended from Christians who aren’t observant) but that doesn’t mean Christmas doesn’t have special significance for me.

What do you think about the whole debate? If you live outside the US, how does your country deal with religion and government? Do any non-Christians out there want to weigh in on whether the tree and Santa can stand alone? And for Christians, do you think it matters if those symbols are separate from the religious aspects of the holiday?

Yeah, a lot of questions. But I’m very curious to know.


  1. Personally, I always thought the tree and Santa did stand alone (or outside the Christian religion). After all, most of the elements of the Christmas holidays originated from Pagan origins (Roman's Saturnalia, Celtic's Yule, a lot of Norse things with the mistletoe, tree, and ornaments). Even the time Christians celebrate Christmas came from the Pagan holidays instead of any actual birth timeline.

    That said, I do think it's rather silly with the whole holiday/Christmas debate. If you are of the religious persuasion, then take it as such. If not, Christmas has become very secular in many ways.

  2. I am an atheist and believe in what Richard Dawkins wrote recently (he's the author of the best seller "The God Delusion"):

    “All that ‘Happy Holiday Season’ stuff, with ‘holiday’ cards and ‘holiday’ presents,” is a tiresome import from the United States, where it has long been fostered more by rival religions than atheists,” Mr. Dawkins wrote.

    I have no problem with Christmas carols, Christmas trees, and Santa Claus (invented by capitalists moreso than religion).

    I have no problem saying the word "Christmas" or wishing someone a "Merry Christmas".

    I know there are atheists that do. The U.S. is a country that responds very well to outrage. That's why we have so much of it here. Anyone can scream "this is unfair! I'm being discriminated against!" etc. and get a ton of media attention for their cause.

    I think that this "motivation" is behind the public outcry moreso than anything else. It's a publicity stunt designed to attract the attention of the media. And each and every time that it does, it succeeds.

    That's just my two cents.

  3. Well, I was going to respond, but, well, again, Micahel pretty much took what I would say. It's a stupid debate and counter to what the season stands for no matter what your beliefs.

  4. It appears we're all in agreement on this one thus far. I'm not particularly religious myself.

    When I hear something like "Season's Greetings" or "Happy Holiday, it's as if the spark, the energy's completely drained out of the sentiment. I have no issue at all with Merry Christmas.

  5. The War on Christmas people make me crazy because, as it has already been so eloquently pointed out, most of the "war" is over the secular aspects of Christmas and not the Christian side. But, I do say Happy Holidays more often than Merry Christmas, because there are a LOT of holidays crammed into a short space of time. Especially on the Christian calendar.

    But calling something a "Holiday Tree" just to be PC is silly.

  6. I haven't been paying too much to the whole debate, but I can see the problem. Quite frankly, Christmas has lost have of it's religious meaning anyway. It's become more of a commercial holiday celebrated more for the heck of it. It's a Christmas tree. Why complicate it? Why try to be politically correct with a holiday, you know?

  7. Well, I'm not religious at all, in any way whatsoever, and yet I still call it Christmas, and I still refer to the trees as "Christmas Trees". ;)

  8. It's a Christmas tree. People who really want to get upset are going to find reasons to get upset. No amount of coddling or PC is going to ever satisfy them.

    I avoid saying Merry Christmas. It annoys me. I don't care if someone wishes me one, though. I just can't form the words in my mouth. (Years of working in retail turned Christmas into the C-word for me.)


Please validate me.