Dec 082005
Authors: Jenna Lynn Ellis

"It's like calling a menorah a candlestick."

That's the feeling many people share, including Mathew Staver (president of the Liberty Counsel), in regard to the widespread practice of calling Christmas trees "Holiday trees."

The politically-charged argument over the pines' title gained national attention last month when House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert publicly stated that the tree on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol should once again be referred to as the "Capitol Christmas Tree," as it was until recent years.

Many people asserted that the title "Christmas" would neglect other traditional holiday celebrations, such as Kwanza and Hanukkah. And the fuss hasn't stopped at decorated trees. Referring to anything from parties to presents to movies to trees by the name of "Christmas" has many in the nation and on this campus feeling politically incorrect.

What is so inconsistent is that Christmas and it's decorations are the only targets for a name change.

Mathew Staver and the Liberty Counsel make a wise parallel in pointing out that no one would dare attempt to change the names of other (especially religious) holidays, simply on the grounds that they're "not inclusive" of other holidays.

When did Christmas become the overhead category for all holidays?

Christmas is in actuality a Christian holiday, just like Hanukkah is Jewish and Kwanza is African-American. Hanukkah celebrates the victory of the Jewish Maccabees over the Greeks and their restoration and rededication of the temple. Kwanza is the African-American celebration of life and a festival of central values.

These holidays are important to celebrants in the same way Christmas is so important to Christians, yet Christmas is the only holiday that has to be "universal" to Americans, or else it is deemed unacceptably "exclusive." The commercialized festivity of Christmas incorporates many secular symbols that have roots in other celebrations instead of Christ's birth.

I wonder what would happen if these political universalists attempted to secularize any other religious holiday? So why is it reasonable to expect Christians to allow Christmas to become just a superficial "holiday" for the bi-partisan?

Linus in Charlie Brown's Christmas expressed it well, that "Christmas is not only getting too commercial, it's getting too dangerous."

Yes, Linus, and the danger is losing the understanding, heart and historical significance of why Christmas is really celebrated-the birth of Jesus Christ.

Jenna Lynn Ellis is a junior technical journalism major. Her column runs every Friday in the Collegian.

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