Here we are again! The Christmas tree debate. This happens every year as soon as people start taking the Christmas tree ornaments out of their storage and Christmas trees start to appear in front yards and in public squares. And what can you say when the First Tree is no longer called a Christmas tree, but a Holiday Tree?
Never mind that Christmas tree is a tradition cherished by Christians. Pundits all over the liberal media give us wise explanations how the Christmas tree is simply a pagan or a pre-Christian symbol, something the ignorant Christians who stupidly insist on calling it a "Christmas" tree, are not even aware of...
For lack of better analogy, let me give you an example. How would you feel if your birthday was on December 13 and you wanted to celebrate it with joy just like millions others who were born on that day, but someone told you that you could not call it "your birthday" because by doing so you were excluding every single person on earth who wasn't born on that day? What if the only politically correct way to celebrate your birthday was to simply celebrate the Day of December 13 so that everyone who felt like celebrating this holiday could participate at will? What if someone told you that your "birthday" cake is a symbol of the womb and the seven layers of chocolate symbolized the shaman's steps to higher awareness? What if the chocolate on your cake wasn't simply a chocolate, but an offering to the gods? Would you still celebrate your birthday? Or would you rather allow your critics to suppress your joy and celebrate the December 13 instead?
Like many other religions, Christianity incorporated symbols and rituals of the peoples that were converted to it. Churches were erected on the remains of Roman, Celtic, Etruscan, Slavic, and Nordic temples. Many converts retained their religious practices and beliefs and gradually incorporated them into Christianity. Many Christian symbols evolved from symbols as old the the human collective consciousness itself.
Religious syncretism is known to other religions as well. Take Buddhism, for instance: the Chinese Buddhism incorporated elements of Taoism; Tibetan Buddhism included elements of the Bon religion that it wanted to suppress; in Japan Buddhism had to compete with Shinto and made the use of its concepts of purity.
Religions may be the last bastion of conservatism, but they evolve as well. They adapt to new circumstances, cultural necessities and spiritual needs of the faithful. The change may be slow, but it occurs independently from what the scriptures dictate.
No one dares to attack the Jews for lightening a menora. Yes. It is called menora and not a holiday candle stand. And no one feels "excluded" because the Jews celebrate "their" Chanukah even if we are not invited. So why is there so much noise about the Christmas tree?
Christmas tree is a Christmas tree and not a "holiday" tree. This is why you do not see it when people celebrate Cinco de Mayo or the October Revolution. This is why people decorate their Christmas trees around Christmas and not in July.
We are living in a modern world where heretics and apostates are not burned at stake any longer. We are free to chose our religion or to practice none. One would have thought the persecution of religion is a thing of the past, but how true is this when we live and let live until the December and wage a "war on a Christmas tree" as soon as we see one?
I don't know on which side of the divide you are right now and whether you celebrate Christmas at all, if you want to have a Wicca tree in your yard go for it, but let the people who love Christmas trees in peace. Take some time to reflect and simply enjoy the beauty of the Season with all its sights, sounds and scents.
By Dominique Allmon ©2012