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What’s in a name? Holiday trees create unholy wars

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By Linda Ireland

It happened again.

While channel surfing I came upon a talk show host screaming about a “holiday” tree.

She was outraged because it is a “Christmas” tree and anyone who calls it anything else is on a quick track to the gates of Hades.

In the Bible, there is no mention of early Christians having a Christmas tree. According to History.com, the practice of bringing evergreens into a dwelling started long before Christ was born. It is pagan – not Christian – in origin.

“Most 19th-century Americans found Christmas trees an oddity,” according to the website. “The first record of one being on display was in the 1830s by the German settlers of Pennsylvania, although trees had been a tradition in many German homes much earlier. The Pennsylvania German settlements had community trees as early as 1747. But, as late as the 1840s Christmas trees were seen as pagan symbols and not accepted by most Americans.

It is not surprising that, like many other festive Christmas customs, the tree was adopted so late in America. To the New England Puritans, Christmas was sacred.”

William Bradford, an early governor, tried to stamp out “pagan mockery” of Christmas, “penalizing any frivolity.” Oliver Cromwell referred to carols and decorated trees as “heathen traditions.”

“In 1659, the General Court of Massachusetts enacted a law making any observance of Dec. 25 (other than a church service) a penal offense; people were fined for hanging decorations. That stern solemnity continued until the 19th century, when the influx of German and Irish immigrants undermined the Puritan legacy.”

In short, the Christmas tree is a relatively new tradition for Americans. 

These days, we really, really, like our twinkling trees. We’ll fight you over them.

If Christmas is a holy day – then isn’t saying “happy holy day” another way of saying “merry Christmas?” If you attach religious meaning to your tree, why not call it a “holy” or “holiday” tree?

If you still wish to fight about it – remember, that attitude pretty much destroys your argument for peace on earth and good will toward men.

Why not be like “Randolph the Redneck Reindeer” and let your neighbor “spread Christmas his own way?”

(Hint: Holiday song from a few years ago, performed by Barry Kaye before Grandma got ran over by a reindeer.)

Oh, Randolph the Redneck Reindeer was just a little bit too profane

So he wasn’t asked by Santa Claus to pull the Christmas sleigh.

Oh, Randolph the Redneck Reindeer, made a plan that day,

In his old Levis and his crumpled hat, spreadin’ Christmas his own way.

Merry Christmas, my friends.