NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Opinion

December 13, 2013

Our view: The 'holiday tree' honors no one

It’s nice to see that some of the silly efforts at being holiday-politically correct are being tossed aside.

For the past two years, Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee has referred to his state’s towering spruce as a “holiday tree.” That move, meant to avoid hurt feelings and celebrate religious diversity, backfired. Many residents reacted with anger, so much so that Chafee reversed himself and let the secretary of state light up the official state Christmas tree last week.

Rhode Island’s struggle is hardly isolated. It goes on across this nation, an attempt to meld a Christian tradition into something that honors none of the religions that a generic “holiday tree” is intended to placate. And then there is the problem with creating an artificial religious holiday — almost none of the world’s major religions celebrate major holidays that coincide with the Christmas time of year.

Most local communities in this area have a community Christmas tree that is ceremoniously lit every year, Newburyport included. And in recent years, there’s been a growing effort to distinguish other faiths at this time of the year. We were glad to see that this year Amesbury lit a menorah in the downtown gazebo to recognize Hanukkah. Newburyport also lights a menorah in Market Square.

It shouldn’t be a big deal, but the holiday debate is as predictable as Yankee swaps and stockings hung by the fire.

Christmas, Hanukkah, the winter solstice and Kwanzaa can all fall within the same week, although they don’t this year.

This all leads to the question — as annoying as “What do you want for Christmas?” — and that is, what holiday greeting is the most acceptable.

A Rasmussen poll last week focused on all questions holiday. Merry Christmas beat Happy Holidays by the same margin fudge would beat fruitcake.

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