Tuesday, December 12, 2006

O Christmas Tree

Have you heard about the airport in Seattle that removed the Christmas trees?

The whole situation is kind of sad. Apparently, in response to the fact that there were Christmas trees, a Jewish Rabbi requested that menorahs be placed in the airport as well. Of course, the airport, now fearing that if they placed a menorah, would then have to follow with other holiday decorations, decided to just take down all the Christmas trees instead.

This wasn't what the Rabbi had wanted, nor the airport workers. The workers pooled their money and bought Christmas trees of their own and put them up.

What makes this situation odd to me is that idea that Christmas trees are a Christian symbol. They aren't, actually. Despite having become associated with Christmas, the Christmas tree is not originally grounded in Christian tradition. It has nothing to do with Christ or his birth. And, actually, the time of year we celebrate Christmas really has nothing to do with the Bible. It was originally chosen to coincide with some pagan celebration.

Perhaps I'm odd. When I see a Christmas tree, I don't think of Jesus. I think of the holiday season. Now, I suppose if the airport had put up a nativity, it is a different issue, as that is clearly religious in nature. But Christmas trees?

Not that I blame the Rabbi in this, either. I certainly would have no issue about there being a menorah. The festival of lights and the event that the menorah represents demonstrates the power of God in a time before Christ. Problem is, if you put up a menorah, you definitely are placing a religious symbol up...which could lead to Christians insisting on putting up a nativity.

Rather circular problem I think. And, as I understand it, up until this past century, the festival of lights was a rather minor holiday as Jewish holidays go.

Whether people think the Rabbi was wrong for asking to put up the menorahs, or the airport was wrong for taking down the Christmas tree, or the airport workers were wrong for putting up their own trees in protest...I think it demonstrates something sad. People seem to forget that these holidays are meaningful to individuals. The public display of such symbols are in response to individuals wanting them there. Isn't this supposed to be a world of "tolerance"? (Which, actually, I take issue with...but I won't get into that here.) Yet, rather than tolerating anything, we say, "Hey, they got their way...I should get my way, too!"

That's not exactly tolerance.

Well, really...I think everyone should stop worrying about who wants to display their Christmas tree or menorah and get back to the real reason for the holiday season: shopping!

(Uh, that's a joke, by the way. Sarcasm. You know?)

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