“Holiday tree” takes the cake
A reader writes:
I was talking to a liberal friend at work this week about the replacement use of “holiday” for Christmas and the purging of religious language and symbols from public and government forums. (Here in Nashville, Mayor Purcell achieved a first by announcing the lighting of the 2005 “Holiday tree.”) My friend felt this was quite reasonable and could not understand the basis for any objection. Instead, he felt the whole transformation to be good, more protective and inclusive….I hadn’t focused on this particular issue before, but now that I have, I am truly stunned by this “Holiday tree” business. I understand “Happy Holidays,” that’s been with us for many years. The excuse was, originally, there are Jews, and Jews have Hanukah, and also Christmas is followed by New Year’s, so there’s this whole ensemble that became the season of “holidays.” Ok, I understand it, though I oppose it.
But “Holiday tree” makes no sense at all. These are Christmas trees we’re talking about. Such trees, displayed at this time of the year, with certain types of familiar decorations, were never anything other than Christmas trees. The reason the trees are there at this time of the year is to commemorate Christmas, not to commemorate generic “holidays.”
So, while “Happy Holidays” is bad, and has gotten much worse because it’s being practiced and imposed more and more widely and is even being enforced by businesses and other institutions on their employees, it’s not inherently Orwellian. “Holiday Tree,” by contrast, is as Orwellian as you can get. But wait, there is something even more Orwellian than “Holiday tree”: ordinary people accepting the use of “Holiday tree” as normal and unobjectionable.