What Holiday Are We Celebrating?

I don’t know about you, but I get really tired of hearing about the lighting of “holiday” trees.  They’re Christmas trees.  There, I said it.

I’d like to ask all those city/county/state/federal officials who can’t get themselves to say the word “Christmas” to explain to me what holiday is actually being celebrated with a decorated illuminated tree.

I wanted to figure out why some people have an aversion to calling something what it is – a Christmas tree – so I looked at my calendar to see if I missed any “holiday” in December that uses trees in its observance.


There’s, of course, National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day on the 7th signifying the attack on Pearl Harbor.  I found nothing that says tall green trees with lights and ornaments are used to honor our dead patriots on December 7th.

There’s the Jewish festival of Chanukah, celebrated this year from the 20th through the 28th.  At the heart of the festival is the nightly menorah lighting:  a single flame on the first night, two on the second evening, and so forth until all eight lights are kindled.   While doing my research, I found nothing that says a tree with glass ornaments and candles was part of the Jewish celebration of Chanukah.

Ronald McKinley Everett aka Maulana Karenga, black convicted felon and professor of Africana studies, created Kwanzaa, a week long celebration held in the United States honoring universal African-American heritage and culture, observed from December 26 to January 1 each year. According to the official website, not one of the symbols of Kwanzaa is a tree with garland, tinsel and a star on the top.

Then, there’s the winter solstice celebrated this year on the 22nd of December.  The December solstice occurs when the sun reaches its most southerly declination of -23.5 degrees. In other words, it’s when the North Pole is tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun. It’s celebrated worldwide and the festivities vary from culture to culture, but I didn’t read anything that included decorated evergreens with angels on the top

So, now we come to December 25th – Christmas – celebrating the birth of Jesus, who is either the son of God or merely a historical figure – depending upon your belief/non-belief system.  Part of the tradition of Christmas dating back to the 15th Century in Livonia and the 16th Century in Northern Germany, is the use of decorated and illuminated trees. They’ve been decorated with tinsel, garlands, popcorn, candy canes, glass ornaments in all shapes and sizes and lights and usually have a star or angel on the top representing the host of angels or the Star of Bethlehem from the Nativity.

So, after reading about all the “holidays” in the month of December, I ask all those folks who light “holiday” trees, what “holiday” are you celebrating?   The answer is simple.  “Christmas!”  So, call it what it is – it’s a Christmas tree!

I don’t get it, but if you do, God bless you.

Author Bio:

For over twenty years, Leona has tried to heed her husband’s advice, “you don’t have to say everything you think.” She’s failed miserably. Licensed to practice law in California and Washington, she works exclusively in the area of child abuse and neglect. She considers herself a news junkie and writes about people and events on her website, “I Don’t Get It,” which she describes as the “musings of an almost 60-year old conservative woman on political, social and cultural life in America.” It’s not her intention to offend anyone who “gets it.” She just doesn’t. Originally from Brooklyn, and later Los Angeles, she now lives with her husband, Michael, on a beautiful island in the Pacific Northwest, which she describes as a bastion of liberalism.
Author website: http://www.idontgetit.us
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  • flataffect

    The term holiday is a combination of the words “holy day.” So we can expect that soon atheists and secular progressives will be going after “holiday” as well. The idea that human beings will strive to be better people without a set of absolute values is absurd and the founders of the U.S. knew it. They didn’t trust clergymen and sectarian feuds, but they recognized that the task of self-government is hard enough without throwing off the sustaining influence of faith and morals.

    Holy days are essential for people who we expect to keep a watch on government and elect honest leaders.

  • Ron F

    Isn’t the important thing that no one is stopping us from celebrating Christmas any way we want. We will all be free to go to church on Christmas Eve and Christmas. We will all be free to make it a religious or secular celebration. Frankly, I do not care what petty politicians or commercial establishments do as long as I am free, as guaranteed by the Constitution, to celebrate Christmas any way I want and to practice my religion.

  • Ed DeCosmo

    Thank you Bernie for having the courage to tackle this “sacred” cow of the politically correct. But we must take the idea of Christmas one step farther.
    We have two Christmas celebrations in this country. One is popular with Santas and Christmas trees decorating America’s main house of worship — the shopping mall. The other is religious, the birth of Christ. Now get ready for a shock, fellow Americans. Christ was not a balsam, fir or spruce. A decorated pine tree is not a religious symbol. Unless, of course, you are a Druid.
    Non-Christians need not feel outrage at the display of a tree (unless they are repulsed by the myth of Merlin. It’s just a tree. A simple tree, nothing else.
    Nor should they be repelled by a nativity manger scene. Nothing in the Christian or non-Christian world is more symbolic of love, hope and peace than a creche and a tiny child.

  • Drew Page

    Someone help me out. How in the world does anyone get offended by someone wishing you a Merry Christmas? It’s meant to be a pleasant cheerful greeting during the Christmas holidays.
    For hundreds of years, people in predominately Christian countries have exchanged this greeting.

    Since the founding of the United States and the passage of the First Amendment to the Constitution, Americans have celebrated Christmas as a Christian tradition. Those who emigrated to the United States knew that the majority of Americans were Christians of one denomination or another. They learned that our Constitution made frequent references to God and Devine Providence. They learned that sworn oaths in court were made with a person’s hand on a Christian bible. Still they remained and they became citizens. In all that time the government never demanded that anyone adopt a Christian religious denomination, or any religion at all for that matter. On the contrary, the predominantly Christian United States was tolerant of other faiths and allowed those with non-Christian beliefs the freedom to practice their own beliefs and worship in their own way.

    Why should an atheist get offended at the sight of a Nativity scene displayed in front of a public place during Christmas time? It’s something he obviously doesn’t believe. No one is forcing him to kneel before it or pay homage to it. It makes as much sense as me getting offended because someone at City Hall put up a statue of E.T.

    To those of other non-Christian faiths taking offense at our public display of Christian greetings, symbols, holidays and traditions I say this, “Just who the hell do you think you are? The United States is and has always been a predominantly Christian country. If you don’t like it here, go back to where you came from.”

    • Terry Walbert

      “Why should an atheist get offended at the sight of a Nativity scene displayed in front of a public place during Christmas time?”

      Because they chose to be offended. Then they get to play dog in the manger. Hmmm…Is that an oblique reference to Christianity?

  • chief98110

    Clearly there is an element of political correctness that has gone amok. I have a friend who is in charge of setting up “Holiday Decorations”, and 90% of the folks enjoy his work. He has a few jerks who want to know why he has omitted or has no decorations for their particular holiday celebration. I told him that he should tell them bring in your own stuff. He said he doesn’t want to be fired.
    Happily, I don’t have to worry about getting fired so I say to all, Merry Christmas.

  • Karen

    Jeremiah 10:1-5

    [1] Hear what the Lord says to you, O house of Israel. [2] This is what the Lord says: “Do not learn the ways of the nations or be terrified by signs in the sky, though the nations are terrified by them. [3] For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel. [4] They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter. [5] Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good.”

    Just saying. And for the record, I do request the removal of the work “Christmas” for my own sake. I’m certainly not worried about offending others with the word. In fact, as you lot demonstrate, more people tend to get offended by the removal of the word than by its use. Is it really worth complaining about the fact that your religion is the dominant one in our country? So much so that our own constitution (which so many of you get up in arms over so long as it supports what you want, like the 2nd amendment) is routinely violated in favor of Christianity. Christmas as a National holiday is just one example. You can’t have it both ways. Do you support the constitution or do you just want everything to go your way no matter what?

    • Bill Hurdle

      Karen, I did not understand the exact reason why you object to use of the word Christmas other than you think it is an illegitimate way of demonstrating the dominant religion in the US. Let me try to define what I think is your issue. You are offended that what you perceive as idiots are believers in Christianity. You begrudge these obvious mentally inferior individuals the pleasure they receive from celebrating Chrismas. It irritates you even more when it is evident that the vast majority do not even associate the holiday with the birth of Christ. How dare they derive such pleasure from a heathen event. You believe that being mentally superior you have the duty to keep these idiots from acting so foolisly. In short it is JEALOUSY!!

      • Karen

        Good to know that one short comment is enough for you to figure out “my issue.” Clearly I need to find a therapist with skills such as yours. As it turns out, though, your conclusions are far from accurate.

        In no way do I think that believers in Christianity are idiots. I happen to have both close friends and family who are devout Christians, some of whom are among the most intelligent people I know. Neither do I begrudge anyone the pleasure of celebrating Christmas, especially since I celebrate it myself every year, albeit in a secular manner. (I know that’s a whole different can of worms, so if it helps lets just say I celebrate Santa Clause Day but call it Christmas). While I’m aware that most celebrants don’t associate Christmas with Christ so much, this doesn’t bother me at all, since my celebration certainly isn’t Christ focused, either.

        As for Christmas being a heathen event, is not the definition of heathen someone or something that is *not* Christian? In any case, I did not state the exact reason I object to the word Christmas, but I can do so here. Our Constitution requires the separation of church and state, as I’m sure you’re well aware. I support the removal of the word Christmas in order to maintain that separation. Identifying holiday decorations in public spaces as “holiday trees” rather than “Christmas trees” ensures that the government is not blatantly and directly endorsing Christianity, though some might argue (as I’m sure some have) that displaying something so thoroughly rooted in Christian tradition and ritual still violates the 1st amendment. For me, the fact that so many people use decorated fir trees for secular celebrations is enough to make it acceptable.

        Out of curiosity, though, do you have a reaction to the passage from Jeremiah that I quoted? It seems to be fairly discouraging of using decorated trees as an aspect of worship.

  • Terry Walbert

    When will everyone learn that it’s much more fun to do and say the politically incorrect thing. It is a Christmas tree.

    So in the spirit of the season, I’d like to wish all my fellow readers of bernardgoldberg.com a very Merry Holiday and a Happy New Year 2012 (Common Era, of course).

  • Jeannette

    Merry Christmas, Leona! Hope your tree is lit up like a, well, Christmas tree.

    • Leona Salazar

      It is! And Merry Christmas to you, too!

  • Roger Ward

    About 20 years ago, I began sending Happy Holiday cards instead of Christmas cards, under the belief that I was being inconsiderate of other religions’ traditions and not being inclusive of different viewpoints. Then, about 10 years ago, I realized that I’d only fallen victim to political correctness and changed my practice, so I’m back to sending Christmas cards. Now, if I send any card other than a Christmas card, it’s only for those traditions and religions I respect (like Judaism or Buddhism) and not for those I don’t (like Islam and Kwanzaa.)

    Political Correctness is pernicious; it makes you feel that you’ve done the right thing when all you’ve done is to cave in to the “correct” manner of groupthink.

  • Richard Allen

    I’m 68 and its been Christmas my entire life and it will be Christmas till I expire.

    • chief98110

      I’m 65 and feel exactly the same. Merry Christmas Richard.

  • Will Swoboda

    Spot on again. You are right. There is something about Christmas that is being denied. It is the birth of Christ Christians celebrate. Why can’t we just call it what it is.

  • Blakely1

    There is an element in our society that seeths
    with loathing because we have a National Holiday,
    that celebrates the birth of Christ. They would love to change it, but their chances are slim & none, so they try to minimize its impact.

  • Ken Hansen

    Oobviously we are celebrating “Lots of stuff under the Holiday Tree” day, why else would someone RENT toys just to give their children the illusion of an abundant supply of toys on Christmas Day?

  • David B

    The little town I live in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida has a park, Every “holiday” season they put up 30-40 giant signs surrounding the park with every greeting under the sun except not one says Merry Christmas. When I inquired they said using the C word offends or may offend people.

    If I complain about a gay parade on public roads because I am offended basically I am told no one cares if I am offended. But if one gay or athiest complains about the word Christmas how come we aren’t allowed to say who cares if you are offended? hint…(rhetorical question)

    Everyone….I hope you have a merry berry happy holiday!

    • chief98110

      Except for the politically correct nubnuts it must be a nice place to live. I have the same experience in my town. Nice people but in the real world they would be eaten by wild animals.

  • rick geiger

    Really, this myth that there is a war on Christmas is a little ridiculous. First of all over 75% of people in the US are Christian, so I doubt they have surrendered in a war. Second, for pretty much all of November and December you cannot swing a dead cat without hitting something associated with Christmas– not really a sign of war on Christmas.

    Sure, there are the media elites that don’t always use the term Christmas for what is clearly the Christmas holiday…but so what? Those same media elites are still pretty much all populated by Christians in the majority, they all have Christmas parties and Christmas vacations even if sometimes they call it Holiday vs. Christmas.

    This whole whining and crying about the putative war on Christmas is just so much over hyped media by folks that want everything to be exactly the way they want it. Suck it up and stop pretending the Christians in this country of 75% or more Christians are victims. Yeah there are some people that are bigoted against Christians, but relative to the other bigotry, it is small change

    • chuck haas

      I don’t say it is a ‘war’ on Christmas, it is just a pc denial thing. I worked for a company with operations in North and South America. The official memo came out for the ‘holiday’ season by each region (US, Canada, and Mexico) For Canada the heading was “Christmas Schedule”. For Mexico it was “Christmas Schedule” For the US it was…wait for it….”Winter Holiday Schedule”. Go figure.

    • CCNV


      I say the SAME things about the occupy wall street thugs!

      “This whole whining and crying…”, “…folks that want everything to be exactly the way they want it”, “Suck it up and stop pretending…”, “…it is small change”.

    • Ken Hansen

      It isn’t a ‘war’ it is a series of Pre-emotive strikes designed to eliminate imagined insults by unnamed others – it’s never the person requesting/implementing the removal of ‘Christmas’ for themselves, it is bs because it MIGHT offend someone else…

    • A. C.

      rick geiger wrote, in part:
      “First of all over 75% of people in the US are Christian”

      You are wrong. While 75% of Americans might admit to being Christians if pressed, perhaps a third or less actually practice Christianity or worship on anything approximating a regular basis. America isn’t Christian any more.

      America’s main religion is Materialism and the vast majority, including those who claim to follow any, ANY other religion fall into one or the other of its two denominations: consumerism or capitalism. All converge to worship at that common alter, the cash register, which is presided over by Materialism’s clergy, the salesclerk.

      This nation practices most intensely during the last six weeks of the year, starting with the part of the week leading up to Thanksgiving where we buy and consume foods most of us never eat the rest of the year, and we consume them in quantities we regret for the rest of the year. Then the six week celebration of buying and selling kicks off with “Black Friday.” On this day and up through December 25th, we (most Americans) spend far more time that we ever do in worship thinking about what to give, struggling to find “that perfect gift” that the recipient would never buy for him/herself and contemplating (a form of meditation, check your thesaurus) what we want to receive. Where we spend our time, where we invest our emotions, what we care about is our religion, and it’s stuff not our eternal destiny.

      It’s not what we say, it’s what we do, it’s the thing on which we spend our time and money and emotion that makes the American religion MATERIALISM.

  • Gena Taylor

    As usual, Ms Salazar, you put it out there, plain and simple, and true, so that even a liberal ought to be able to understand, although they will claim they have to use the word “holiday” tree so as to not offend people who are not Christians (ie athiests and Muslims are the main complainers).
    This country’s leaders have gotten so worried about being PC they have lost all connection with reality or logic. And the country has suffered terribly as a result.

  • Neil1981

    Could not agree more.

    It seems the word “Christmas” has become a PC 4 letter word.

    No one has any problems wishing someone Happy Kwanzaa (I’m not even sure of the number of people who even actually celebrate this) or Happy Hanukkah (which I do celebrate along with Christmas).

    No one has a problem wishing someone a Happy New Year.

    But as we go beyond the November-January calander, no one really wishes anyone the respective names of holidays in the remaining year.

    When was the last time someone came up and wished you a Happy Presidents Day or Labor Day or Columbus Day?

    New Years Day,Thanksgiving and the 4th of July are really the only holidays where people fully express the actual name of the holiday in their well wishes.

    Sadly in todays society, holidays are lost in their true meanings of rememberance and are just another day off or reason to drink and party.

    I hope this is OK with you Leona but I wanted to add the following:

    Tomorrow December 7th is Pearl Harbor Rememberance Day and it is near and dear to my heart as we mark the 70th anniversary of this tragic chapter in American History in which 2,402 lives were taken and another 1,282 injured.

    I have been a proud member of the USS Arizona Memorial Association for 10 years and invite all that read this to click on the enclosed link and consider becoming a member of this outstanding organization.


    Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! everyone.

    Boy that felt good !!!!!!!!!!

    • Nancye

      I remember Pearl Harbor. I was just a child when it happened, but I will always remember Pearl Harbor.

      Thanks for the link and your comments.

      • Neil1981

        You’re welcome :)

  • Ron F

    Politicians can call Christmas trees whatever they want. We can ignore them. The nice thing is we can still celebrate Christmas the way we want to. Thank God there is still religious freedom in this country.

    • David B

      For now……stay tuned!