I live in
Island where our Governor decided to rename the State House Christmas Tree a “Holiday Tree”, in order to be inclusive of other
religions that use an evergreen tree to celebrate their December holidays. I know of no other religion that uses a cut
evergreen decorated in lights to celebrate this festive season. Some have told me that “pagans” use the
evergreen, and that the Christmas tree is based upon the tradition of
decorating an evergreen to celebrate the Winter Solstice. These people are only half-right. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing,
and that appears to be what has happened here.
I do not disagree that our pagan ancestry decorated evergreens in honor of the Winter Solstice, but they decorated live, planted evergreens and they used items found in nature! The religions we call pagan – in particular Wicca, from which Christianity draws many of its celebratory customs – worshiped nature. No faithful of a pagan religion would dare to cut down a live tree to celebrate nature! If I were a follower of Wicca, I would be insulted that one would try to pass off a cut evergreen as a symbol of my beliefs in an attempt to be “inclusive” of my beliefs! This is tantamount to someone hanging a crucifix upside down and thinking that it all means the same to a Christian.
In our attempts to be inclusive, we offend those that society has deemed safe to offend. Nobody would dare to call a Menorah or a Kinara a “Holiday Candelabra”, even though other religions and cultural celebrations use candles in their celebrations, too. Why has society deemed it appropriate to offend the majority in its attempts to promote the diversity of our culture? In the wise words of Abraham Lincoln, “a house divided against itself cannot stand”. Room must be made for all at the holiday celebration, but not by pushing long-time guests out of the house.
Religion is a part of culture; in fact, it is one of the few anthropological universals. Even as society as a whole moves away from the strict observation of religious mores, Christmas is still celebrated on a large scale because it has become more than a religious holiday; it has become a cultural [read: secular] celebration of our hope for peace on earth and a reminder of our own attempts to practice goodwill towards others. These values spring not from any one religion or faith, but of the cultural views of countless nations. How ironic that the Christmas tree – a symbol and reminder of what we celebrate as a culture, regardless of religious belief or non-belief – has become the symbol of a divided nation!
This holiday season I send wishes to all who read this for a blessed holiday, regardless of what holiday or holidays you celebrate. I ask that those who would normally react with intolerance towards a holiday symbol – be it a Christmas tree or a Menorah or a Kinara or a Festivus Pole – to temper your intolerance and instead indulge in curiosity. Rather than condemn the symbol, ask questions about what it means to the person who has displayed it. What you learn could go a long way in the fight to promote a diversity that does not discriminate.
P.S. In order of their appearance on the calendar, I would like to wish you all a...
|Hanukkah 2012 started last night! אני מקווה שהאור של הנס באת לנצח|
Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish readers!
|Winter Solstice is on 12/21/12. |
Wishing you a blessed and festive solstice celebration!
|Festivus is on 12/23/12, for those unfamiliar with this celebration!|
Click here to air your grievances, Festivus revelers!
|December 25th - January 6th, for those who celebrate all twelve days.|
That's a lot of partridges and pear trees!
|December 26th - January 1st|
Seven days of thanksgiving and a celebration of African culture
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