Tis the Season for Made Up Controversies
Chicagoist loves the comfort of representative democracy, knowing that our elected officials are taking care of the important things for us, things that require the leadership and insight of our best and brightest like making sure we call Christmas trees the right name. That's right, House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) is on the case, sending a letter to the Architect of the Capitol, asking that he please call the decorated conifer on Capitol Hill a "Christmas tree" instead of "Holiday tree."
Hastert's move is part of a larger debate that Christmas is somehow in danger because people often say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas," or try to make holiday displays inclusive of other religions and cultures. Conservative Christian groups say that removing religious symbols from decorations or neutering greetings limits their free speech and right to religious expression. Some might say this is just backlash against overzealous political correctness, but they take it seriously. As the Tribune reports, two groups, Rev. Jerry Falwell's Liberty Counsel and the Alliance Defense Fund, have almost 1,600 lawyers ready to battle the "secular humanist" movement against the religious basis of Christmas. These groups started their campaign three years ago, but the scare tactics about the threat to Christmas have a long history (link to Salon, registration or DayPass req'd).
For once, Chicagoist agrees with Hastert. Call a Christmas tree a Christmas tree. No other religions or cultures decorate trees during winter celebrations, so "Holiday tree" is silly. But at the same time, what's so hard about acknowledging that some people don't celebrate Christmas and have their own traditions? You've successfully politicized Santa Claus, are you happy?
Christmas isn't going anywhere people, so just relax. In fact, it's everywhere from mid-November to the New Year. If you want to blame anyone for the loss of the religious significance of the holiday, blame retailers who have turned it into a giant orgy of mass consumption. If someone says "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas," take it for what it is: they're being nice. Enjoy it, they could have flipped you off and spit in your coffee instead. So Happy Holidays, you ingrates. Chicagoist is going to eat latkes while watching Christmas Vacation, having a whole lot more fun than you are this season.