When is a Christmas Tree no longer a Christmas Tree?

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When is a Christmas Tree no longer a Christmas Tree?

Postby Tuor, » Wed Nov 30, 2005 10:31 am

Hastert Wants 'Christmas,' Tree Together

Should political correctness over ride tradition? I obviously don't believe so. Do they have similar problems in Europe? Or has this issue become a long dead issue and Christmas trees a thing of the past?
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Postby DrStrangelove » Wed Nov 30, 2005 10:34 am

Christmas trees in Europe are a tradition that predate Christ, funnily enough.
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Postby Minardil » Wed Nov 30, 2005 10:35 am

I think fretting over what to call it is silly. Everyone knows what it IS.
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Re: When is a Christmas Tree no longer a Christmas Tree?

Postby Ghlade » Wed Nov 30, 2005 10:45 am

Tuor, wrote:Hastert Wants 'Christmas,' Tree Together

Should political correctness over ride tradition? I obviously don't believe so. Do they have similar problems in Europe? Or has this issue become a long dead issue and Christmas trees a thing of the past?
I totally agree, Tuor. Tradition and history really override concerns of inclusion, popularity, or even relevance. Which is why I support renaming the Holiday Tree the Bacchus Tree, which would better reflect the evergreen's traditional role in the cross-culture pagan celebrations of the Winter Solstice, dating back thousands of years! :)

Seriously. Things change. Christmas as it is currently celebrated is no longer celebrated solely by Christians, and it has a lot of content that is not explicitly religious. You are welcome to call your own tree whatever you want, but I see nothing wrong with the government recognizing the current state of Christmas and making an attempt to include a wider body of Americans.
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Re: When is a Christmas Tree no longer a Christmas Tree?

Postby vison » Wed Nov 30, 2005 10:54 am

Tuor, wrote:Hastert Wants 'Christmas,' Tree Together

Should political correctness over ride tradition? I obviously don't believe so. Do they have similar problems in Europe? Or has this issue become a long dead issue and Christmas trees a thing of the past?


I don't know about Europe, but this silliness crops up everywhere on this side of the pond. Of course it's a Christmas Tree! You don't see a Menorah referred to as a "holiday candlestick", nor is Diwali referred to as "the holiday season", nor is Ramadan. This is political correctness carried to the usual ludricrous extreme. And to make it even more ludicrous, it is NOT Moslems or Jews or Hindus or Sikhs who demanded such terminology for the Christmas Tree, it is thick-headed bureaucrats who THINK someone might be offended. In our neighbourhood, our Vietnamese neighbours, who are Buddhist, always put up a Christmas tree. The huge Sikh-run grocery store has Christmas lights and trees, and Santas all over the place, and boxes of "Christmas" oranges, etc.

At our little local school the Christmas Concert is still called the Christmas Concert. Last year a little Sikh girl (from a pretty devout family) "played" Mary in the Nativity scene, and two little Buddhist boys were 2/3 of the Three Wise Men, the other Wise Man being my grandson.

I'm not religious at all, but our Christmas Tree is going up tomorrow evening, so we can enjoy it right until Twelfth Night. I call it my Yule Tree, half-jokingly, Yule being one name for the very, very old celebration of the Solstice. Every culture has some form of mid-winter festival, where there is mid-winter.

It's very strange, just the same. The "Christmas Tree" has, in fact, nothing whatsoever to do with Christianity. The custom of hauling an evergreen indoors and decorating it with lights, etc., long predates Christianity in Northern Europe. This pagan custom was co-opted by Christianity, which also chose to celebrate Christ's birth on or near the traditional date for the pagan celebration of the Sun's rebirth. Jesus was not born in the middle of the winter! And it is only in very recent history that Christmas as we know it has been celebrated anyway. The Pilgrims who were so famous at Plymouth Rock thought that 'celebrating' Christmas was sinful. "Christ's Mass" was once only a solemn and dull affair, no feasting or decorations, those old pagan customs were frowned on, it was thought to be enough that the notice of Jesus' birthday was taken. At one time it was forbidden to sing "The Holly and the Ivy", since that song quite plainly refers to the Old Religion.

Although Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria, is often given credit for introducing the custom of the Christmas Tree to England, it was in fact Victoria's aunt, the wife of one of her uncles, a German woman. I can't recall offhand which Duke this was. York?

And, of course, there is Santa Claus. Our current image of this rotund gift-bringer is a Coca Cola illustration from the early twentieth century.
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Postby wntrmute » Wed Nov 30, 2005 11:08 am

It's a tannenbaum or a Yule tree.

Get it right.

On the flip side, Christmas is extremely popular in primarily Shinto/Buddist Japan. They even got past the cofusion over who was supposed to be on the cross.
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Postby Minardil » Wed Nov 30, 2005 11:17 am

Christmas as it is currently celebrated is no longer celebrated solely by Christians,


True, but even people who celebrate Christmas for purely secular reasons still call it "Christmas".

And Christmas has ALWAYS been a very important holiday among Christians who follow Incarnation Theology, so it isn't necessarily true that the holiday has only recently gained popularity.
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Re: When is a Christmas Tree no longer a Christmas Tree?

Postby Iorlas » Wed Nov 30, 2005 11:35 am

Ghlade wrote: Seriously. Things change. Christmas as it is currently celebrated is no longer celebrated solely by Christians, and it has a lot of content that is not explicitly religious. You are welcome to call your own tree whatever you want, but I see nothing wrong with the government recognizing the current state of Christmas and making an attempt to include a wider body of Americans.


How is calling a Christmas tree a Holiday tree more "inclusive"? Are members of other religions asking for this? Not to my knowledge. They know it is Christmas, and respect it for what it is. Who is offended by a Christmas tree besides politically correct, self-loathing, extreme secularist morons?

A Christmas tree is a Christmas tree. If members of other religions want to put up their own holiday displays, by all means, let them, but don't discriminate agains one religion for the sake of others.

(Yeah, I know, normally I am quite a secular, anti-organized religion type person. But this is going too far. Christianity is part of our culture, and it should remain so. Christmas is a wonderful tradition, one that is associated with joy and happiness. Leave it alone.)
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Postby Ghlade » Wed Nov 30, 2005 11:40 am

Minardil wrote:True, but even people who celebrate Christmas for purely secular reasons still call it "Christmas".

And Christmas has ALWAYS been a very important holiday among Christians who follow Incarnation Theology, so it isn't necessarily true that the holiday has only recently gained popularity.
Well, I certainly don't argue that Christmas is only recently popular. Quite the contrary, since in the past we were a far more homogenously Christian country than we are now. What Christmas has gained over the last century is a lot of nonreligious content, for better or worse.

Congress is not alone in genericizing the holiday. If you listen to the blowhard talking heads on Fox News, their anger is directed largely at department stores and other businesses that use the term "Happy Holidays" instead of Merry Christmas. Both the government and business have very different reasons for trying to appeal to as many people as possible and taking advantage of Christmas' generic content. Obviously some people in both camps feel like "Holiday" is more inclusive than Christmas - and they are probably right, though the benefit may or may not be trivial. Personally, I don't mind if the government puts up a "Christmas Tree" or if Macy's says "Merry Christmas" when you walk in the door. But I don't see anything wrong with the use of the term Holiday, either. "Political Correctness" to me, often strikes me simply as an attempt to be polite. That's a notion that ought to appeal to conservatives.
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Postby GlassHouse » Wed Nov 30, 2005 11:46 am

You know I was thinking the the other day while reading another one of these articles that crops up every year on the winter solstice traditions that were adopted by the early Church.

I think they got it wrong. (backwards actually) Shouldn't the birth of Christ be celebrated in spring and the death of Christ be associated with the winter? Makes sense to me. :?


BTW, I prefer Yule to Christmas too.
Last edited by GlassHouse on Wed Nov 30, 2005 11:50 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Leonides* » Wed Nov 30, 2005 11:48 am

No, because in the dead of winter we need something to celebrate.
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Re: When is a Christmas Tree no longer a Christmas Tree?

Postby Ghlade » Wed Nov 30, 2005 11:51 am

Iorlas wrote:How is calling a Christmas tree a Holiday tree more "inclusive"? Are members of other religions asking for this? Not to my knowledge. They know it is Christmas, and respect it for what it is. Who is offended by a Christmas tree besides politically correct, self-loathing, extreme secularist morons?
While there may be some politically correct, self-loathing, extreme secularist morons out there, that doesn't seem to be what's driving this phenomenon. What's driving it is pure economic considerations: Businesses want to sell more stuff, and they realize that Christmas is a very good opportunity to do so. The more they can make the holiday palatable to people who wouldn't ordinarily celebrate it, the better. The term "Holidays" as a substitute for Christmas is largely born out of that impulse. Whether they are right about that is up for debate, but its not a crazy idea, and big businesses have gotten pretty good in general about figuring out how to appeal to consumers.

A Christmas tree is a Christmas tree. If members of other religions want to put up their own holiday displays, by all means, let them, but don't discriminate agains one religion for the sake of others.
Well, I don't think the debate is about whether its appropriate for Congress to have a tree at all. It seems like it is secular enough of a symbol to avoid a real Constitutional challenge - that's pretty settled law. But the fact remains that part of what lets the government escape that challenge is exactly what I'm talking about: Christmas has a broader, more secular meaning in our society than it did a hundred years ago. A Christmas tree is emblematic of this trend, since it isn't directly related to the story of the birth of Christ. That's also why its easier to call it a "Holiday Tree" than you could call a nativity scene a "Holiday Display." The content in the latter is explicit and limited solely to the Christian faith, whereas the former is something the Cchristian faith inherited from other religious traditions and doesn't seem linked to the Gospel.
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Postby GlassHouse » Wed Nov 30, 2005 11:55 am

I think they missed a really big opportunity here. Think about it, a whole winter of penitence and suffering required to bring back the sun.

Must be my Puritan heritage.
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Postby Leonides* » Wed Nov 30, 2005 12:00 pm

GlassHouse wrote:I think they missed a really big opportunity here. Think about it, a whole winter of penitence and suffering required to bring back the sun.

Must be my Puritan heritage.


Enough people commit suicide in the winter already, Glass. :)
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Re: When is a Christmas Tree no longer a Christmas Tree?

Postby Iorlas » Wed Nov 30, 2005 12:05 pm

Ghlade wrote: That's also why its easier to call it a "Holiday Tree" than you could call a nativity scene a "Holiday Display." The content in the latter is explicit and limited solely to the Christian faith, whereas the former is something the Christian faith inherited from other religious traditions and doesn't seem linked to the Gospel.


Yes, that's true, but over the centuries the tree has become very much associated with the Christian holiday of Christmas, and no sane person would associate it with anything else. They are now inseparable; that is, unless the politically correct, self loathing, extreme secularist morons are successful. :wink:

Calling it a Holiday tree basically does one thing: It angers the majority of the population, who are Christians. Those of minority religions are indifferent, as they had no problem with the tree in the first place. So what is the point?
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Re: When is a Christmas Tree no longer a Christmas Tree?

Postby Ghlade » Wed Nov 30, 2005 12:18 pm

Iorlas wrote:Yes, that's true, but over the centuries the tree has become very much associated with the Christian holiday of Christmas, and no sane person would associate it with anything else. They are now inseparable; that is, unless the politically correct, self loathing, extreme secularist morons are successful. :wink:
But as I've said, this overall shift, of which the Congressional "Holiday Tree" is only one example, isn't really about self loathing secularists. It's about people trying to sell stuff. Christmas has become hopelessly generic and commercial not as a result of anti-Christian bureaucrats but as a natural extension of capitalism and simple greed. You know, the things that conservatives say make America great.
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Postby Minardil » Wed Nov 30, 2005 12:19 pm

Shouldn't the birth of Christ be celebrated in spring and the death of Christ be associated with the winter?


According to the Bible, the Crucifixion happened shortly after Passover. The Last Supper was a Passover Feast, as it happens. Passover occurs in the Spring. So, Easter, which (celebrates the Resurrection not the Crucifixion, btw) does happen at the same time of the year as the even it marks.
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Postby Tuor, » Wed Nov 30, 2005 12:49 pm

According to the Bible, the Crucifixion happened shortly after Passover.


Yes, and according to the Bible, the shepherds were in the hills watching their flocks at night at the time of Jesus' birth. This means it wasn't during the winter, more likely the spring.

Why is Christ's birth celebrated on the winter solstice? One preachers attributes the date to a Babylonian pagan holiday. Here is a llink to the rather long sermon:

Christmas – A Demon Holiday

I don't celebrate Christmas as a Christian holiday, although my wife does. Even so, no where is a Christmas Tree or Santa Claus found in the Bible.
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Postby Lord_Morningstar » Wed Nov 30, 2005 12:54 pm

Leonides* wrote:No, because in the dead of winter we need something to celebrate.


Or in the middle of summer. We're going to have a nasty summer this year.
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Postby The_Angel » Wed Nov 30, 2005 12:57 pm

GlassHouse wrote:I think they missed a really big opportunity here. Think about it, a whole winter of penitence and suffering required to bring back the sun.


Hmmm. I think just one sacrifice should do the trick... typically a leader of some kind... someone important... who's the single most important person in the whole US?

Sacrifice him, and the sun should come right back...
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Postby Xhen » Wed Nov 30, 2005 1:17 pm

The_Angel wrote:
GlassHouse wrote:I think they missed a really big opportunity here. Think about it, a whole winter of penitence and suffering required to bring back the sun.


Hmmm. I think just one sacrifice should do the trick... typically a leader of some kind... someone important... who's the single most important person in the whole US?

Sacrifice him, and the sun should come right back...


Sacrifice Tom Cruise? Well, if you insist.
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Postby Bombadillo » Wed Nov 30, 2005 1:48 pm

I'll give you a hand building that altar (or pyre) Xhen.
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Postby JewelSong » Wed Nov 30, 2005 2:20 pm

Leonides* wrote:No, because in the dead of winter we need something to celebrate.


YES!!! EXACTLY!
:D

Leo, I am in complete, one-hundred percent agreement with you on this.

*faints*
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Postby Ghlade » Wed Nov 30, 2005 2:42 pm

LOL. Those self-hating secularists at Fox News join in on the War on Christmas.

Fox betrays Christmas crusade, sells "Holiday" ornaments for your "Holiday tree"

Although Fox News hosts Bill O'Reilly and John Gibson have lambasted what they see as a "secular" "war on Christmas," Fox News' own online store advertises "Holiday" ornaments rather than "Christmas" ornaments, as apparently first noted on the weblog Daily Kos. The items are grouped under the category "Holiday Ideas."

O'Reilly, host of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, has recently waged a campaign against corporations that greet customers with "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." For his part, Gibson, the host of Fox News' The Big Story with John Gibson, has published a book titled The War on Christmas: How the Liberal Plot to Ban the Sacred Christian Holiday Is Worse Than You Thought (Sentinel, October 2005).

Despite O'Reilly's specific criticism of those who use the term "holiday tree" instead of "Christmas tree," an O'Reilly Factor ornament for sale at the Fox News store features this tagline: "Put your holiday tree in 'The No Spin Zone' with this silver glass 'O'Reilly Factor' ornament."
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Postby DrStrangelove » Wed Nov 30, 2005 3:30 pm

Ghlade wrote:Christmas has a broader, more secular meaning in our society than it did a hundred years ago. A Christmas tree is emblematic of this trend, since it isn't directly related to the story of the birth of Christ.


To a point, although I think it is easier to understand the basic point in much if Europe at least that the traditions of the festival almost entirely pre-date Christianity, but through the actions of history "Christmas" has become the most common name for the festival.

Hence the use of the word "Christmas" in associate with the Christmas tree, the Christmas lights etc.

I think trying to re-Christianise the whole festival misses the point about how old these traditions are and how well they persist. Conversely however somehow banning the word "Christmas" simply because it might refer to Christianity seems to me as odd as trying to ban most of the days of the week for their links with pagan faiths. Or even getting Christians to stop using the term "Easter"
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Postby RoseMorninStar » Wed Nov 30, 2005 5:47 pm

Ghlade wrote: Despite O'Reilly's specific criticism of those who use the term "holiday tree" instead of "Christmas tree," an O'Reilly Factor ornament for sale at the Fox News store features this tagline: "Put your holiday tree in 'The No Spin Zone' with this silver glass 'O'Reilly Factor' ornament."


Oh...that had me laughing so hard I cried. How 'true' is that to the 'real' spirit of Christmas! :roll: Good grief Charlie Brown... you need an O'Reilly Factor ornament for your tree or it just aint a real Christmas tree.

I have a friend who went to China (to adopt a child). As a part of the cultural tour they are required to make she stayed at 'The Swan' hotel. It is a five star hotel that U.S. Presidents have stayed at when in China. This was a few weeks before Christmas (about 2 years ago) and the Chinese must be aware that Americans 'must' have chocolate for Christmas so the hotel had trays loaded with foil wrapped chocolate in the hotel lobby for guests. Unfortunately they were foil wrapped Easter bunnies, but hey... they were trying.
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Postby Chickenlegs » Wed Nov 30, 2005 6:58 pm

GlassHouse wrote:You know I was thinking the the other day while reading another one of these articles that crops up every year on the winter solstice traditions that were adopted by the early Church.

I think they got it wrong. (backwards actually) Shouldn't the birth of Christ be celebrated in spring and the death of Christ be associated with the winter? Makes sense to me. :?


BTW, I prefer Yule to Christmas too.


Sense? I can't honestly see the sense in having the southern and northern hemispheres celebrating Christmas at different times of the year. If there's one event that gives the world a sense of community each year, it's Christmas. Celebrating at different times would mean losing that.

These mid-winter solstice connotations with 25 December are meaningless south of the equator. So what is the mid-summer equivalent of Yule?
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Postby JewelSong » Wed Nov 30, 2005 7:32 pm

You know what? I think we need to celebrate whatever and whenever we can. There's far too much darkness in the world...

Celebrate everything! The return of the Sun, the birth of the Son, the miracle of the oil, the cleansing of the spirit, the shining of the stars.

Celebrate it all! Make music and light lamps and decorate trees and give presents!

Too much darkness...way too much darkness.
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Postby Apostasy » Wed Nov 30, 2005 9:33 pm

I think we should call it whatever will be most likely to make the heads of people like Tuor and O'Reily explode with pure pointless 24/7 outrage.
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Postby LalaithUrwen » Wed Nov 30, 2005 10:15 pm

Apostasy wrote:I think we should call it whatever will be most likely to make the heads of people like Tuor and O'Reily explode with pure pointless 24/7 outrage.


That was completely out of line and uncalled for. :|

(Unless you were attempting to be funny, in which case, you should add a winky guy or something.)


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