Here is a letter that I wrote to a PR guy at the organization that I work for. This started when He sent out a broadcast email to the whole organization recruiting celebrants for his Tree of Hope nonsense. I actually pulled a few punches here, but I think you get the flavor of my thinking. The main thing that these people will try to do is assert some sort of moral high ground. I never let them get away with that conceit. Always, always attack them on their moral presumptions.
“The Tree from Hope…
So it’s the “Tree of Hope” now huh? What will it be next year, the”Tree of REALLY REALLY REALLY Extra Special Goodness?”
Pardon me for my cynicism but I’m still not clear on why we just don’t call it a “Christmas Tree.” Or why we don’t sing “Christmas Carols.” Or why we don’t celebrate “Christmas,” instead of some nebulous “Holiday.” Your explanation regarding some vague acknowledgement of “religions or observances of the season in a universal sense” just doesn’t hold water( oh wait, maybe I should say molecularly unbound flowing substance, after all I don’t want to make the other liquids feel left out).
Here’s a bit of history for you…
The Christmas Tree comes from an ancient European tradition that goes back thousands of years, before even Christianity became the dominant religion of the West. The Druids used the evergreen tree to represent the continuity of life during the shortest day of the year (the winter solstice, now about Dec. 21).
The symbol of the Evergreen tree was especially important to the Europeans because of the pre-Christian tradition represented by the Druids as well as the Nordic gods. Yggdrasil, the World Tree, was the sacred symbol of the Norse. It was an Ash tree that suspended the world between Heaven and Hell and its symbology was transferred to other European cultures around the continent.
When the Christians came to Europe to convert the pagans to Christianity, they used existing mythology and symbology to aid them in their efforts. While the Christmas tree didn’t really solidify as a Christian tradition until around the 1700’s the origin of that religious symbol goes back to European pre-history. As such, it is a unique religious symbol of the European people and in particular the Christian holiday Christmas.
My point here is not to present an exhaustive history of the Christmas tree, but to make the point that your “Tree of Hope” has no constituency. Having cut the tree off from its cultural roots, there is no one who would be interested in it. Beyond that, there is no Moslem, Jewish, Hindu, or other group clamoring to be included in Christmas. They have their own holidays and I doubt they would be so mush headed as to water down their religious observances in order to placate some obstreperous outside group, nor would any reasonable person want them to.
And here’s the take home message…
If you really appreciate different cultures then you want them to be what they are, not homogenised into a bland EveryCulture (oh by the way,that means OUR culture too).
I find it a tremendous irony that the biggest enemies of my own culture are not people from other cultures, but people from my own culture who in their eagerness to wear their “open mindedness” on their sleeve are doing us the most harm. It’s a form of vanity and moral grandstanding that I think is embarrassing and sad.
You ask me if I will be at your “Holiday Tree” celebration? No thanks, I will be with the rest of my civilization celebrating Christmas.”