Courier Life’s

It looks like the good guys won the war on Christmas

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The war on Christmas is over, and we can get back to normal. That is, if you agree with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has renamed the 30-foot-tall “holiday tree” in the Rotunda of the state capitol the “Christmas tree.” Yes, the evergreen tree decorated with ornaments is again officially a symbol of Christmas, in spite of the fact that we observe several holidays around the same time. The menorah and the dreidel remind us of Hanukkah. An ear of corn, a cup, seven candles in a candelabra and fruits on a mat are in honor of Kwanza.

Of course, the Madison-based Freedom from Religion Foundation has is opposing calling it a Christmas tree. It says that non-religious people will be offended by such a tree. Really? They are offended because others call it exactly what it is?

Am I being disrespectful if I said that they’ll have to get over it? I am? Then I won’t say it. But I will say that I have called it a Christmas tree all my life, and no matter what name they want to put on it, no matter where it is displayed, it is still a Christmas tree. I’m not Christian, and I am not offended when folks wish me a Merry Christmas. Are you?

I hope the non-religious coffee drinkers all over America are not offended by the aroma of Starbucks newest mix, the Christmas Blend. Maria, the beautiful gal behind the counter whispered, “Even if they ask me for a container of Holiday Blend I’ll know exactly what they want.”

For those of you who blame FOX news for all these holiday hostilities, how do you account for school boards such as the one in the western New York town of Batavia who have joined in this war on Christmas? There’s a new school policy that bans classroom decorations or displays of Christmas or Hanukkah. Teachers are being told that they cannot even say “Merry Christmas.” They will be allowed to have “multicultu­ral celebratio­ns,” but Christmas parties are prohibited. As far as the holiday concert is concerned, the program has to be “balanced.” Certain songs and expressions are not allowed. “Christmas should not be included and blah, blah, blah.” This is what ticks me off.

Some of those same schools that teach our youngsters about sex and demonstrate pregnancy prevention by putting condoms on cucumbers are forbidden to sing about Christmas or even mention God. Glee clubs and choruses all over America are free to sing about winter and gift giving, but Christmas songs? Heaven forbid. Hey. Can I mention “heaven?” If “God” is a no-no “heaven” is a maybe.

So if we have to find acceptable names for the day that is declared a legal holiday, what can we sing? Well, if you change the lyrics a bit, you might be able to come up with the top 10.

10) “I’m Dreaming Of A White Winter Solstice”; 9) “It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Winter Break”; 8) “I’ll Be Home For Mid-Winter Holiday Happy Giving Time”; 7) “On the First day Of Joyous Time My True Love Gave To Me”; 6) “All I Want For Merry Jolly Festive Joyous Eve Is My Two Front Teeth”; 5) “We Wish You A Merry Cold Weather Holiday”; 4) “It’s A Holly Jolly Euro-Centrically Imposed Mid-Winter Festival”; 3) “Oh Giving Tree”; 2) “Rocking Around the Winter Celebration Tree” and my favorite, the Chipmunks sing 1) “The Saturnalia Song.”

Saturnalia? Don’t bother looking it up. Trust me on this. It is one that you’ll enjoy. Just celebrate it.

• • •

Whatever your preference is, I am wishing you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyful Kwanza, Happy Holidays and, of course, a Fabulous Festivus for the rest of us!

Stan Gershbein's column appears every Monday on

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Reader Feedback

CJ from Lakeview says:
Stan, in your next article, please comment on the history of this Christmas tree you speak of. I'm interested in learning the origins of how an evergreen tree decorated with lights and garland and placed in our living rooms has become the symbol of the Christmas.
Dec. 19, 2011, 10:52 pm
Stan Gershbein from Courier Life says:
I Googled the question "How did the Evergreen tree become the symbol of Christmas?" and came up with many rersponses. The following is just a small part of what Wikipedia has to say -- The custom of erecting a decorated Christmas tree can be historically traced back at least as far as 15th century Livonia (present-day Estonia and Latvia) and 16th century Northern Germany. According to the first documented uses of a Christmas tree in Estonia, in 1441, 1442, and 1514, the Brotherhood of Blackheads erected a tree for the holidays in their brotherhood house in Reval (now Tallinn). At the last night of the celebrations leading up to the holidays, the tree was taken to the Town Hall Square where the members of the brotherhood danced around it. In 1584, the pastor and chronicler, Balthasar Russow, wrote of an established tradition of setting up a decorated spruce at the market square where the young men “went with a flock of maidens and women, first sang and danced there and then set the tree aflame”. The Christmas tree became widely adopted by the Estonians themselves only in the 19th century.
Wikipedia, along with other responses to my Googled question say a lot more.
A Very, Merry Christmas to you and yours.....Stan
Dec. 20, 2011, 6:14 am
Laraine from PA says:
Glad they put back "Christmas" on the tree. No one ever took the candles from the menora!
What ever-the Holidays are meant for all of us-so enjoy!
Dec. 20, 2011, 1:36 pm
Stan from Courier Life says:
OOOOPS! It's KWANZAA. My apologies.
Dec. 21, 2011, 7:43 pm
Larry Linn from The road says:
Have a Happy Hanukkah!
Dec. 22, 2011, 7:45 pm
Tinman from Sheepshead Bay says:
Once again, your misguided view misses the whole "war on Christmas." It began as a campaign by the religious right to Christianize America. Christmas is a man-made holiday that evolved into commercial mania that reduces the true spirit of the season.
Celebrate whatever the heck you want, but don't foist your beliefs on those who could care less or don't acknowledge it.
Ho, Ho, Ho, happy HOLIDAY! If you don't like that, stuff it down your chimney.
Dec. 23, 2011, 4:03 pm
jogano from Mill Basin says:
To Tinman from Sheepshead Bay (comment above):
Hey, take that chip off your shoulder. Christmas is a joyous celebration...enjoy it with a smile.
Blame the media for the commercial mania that has evolved, yes, and blame the lousy liberal government for 'foisting' its rules and regulations on Americans. No Christmas tree in the Staten Island terminal=perfect example. Bah Humbug!
Dec. 24, 2011, 12:23 pm

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