People lit up over calling Christmas tree ‘holiday tree’

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Submitted: Tue, 11/27/2012 - 3:15am
Updated: Wed, 09/11/2013 - 12:48pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — There is a big beautiful tree downtown just across from the federal courthouse, but what is it? When we ran a story about the lighting of the city’s holiday tree, it lit up our web site with comments.

The name came from the city, which released this statement on the issue:

“The use of the word Holiday instead of Christmas has been an issue for governmental organizations across the country for the last several years. By using the word ‘Holiday,’ the City of Wilmington is trying to maintain a balancing act between the Constitutional rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion. We make every effort to be respectful of all beliefs and forms of celebration while also adhering To the law.”

But the people we spoke with still prefer Christmas tree.

“I’d like to think that you can call it whatever you want as long as it means something to you. I do think that holiday tree is an over PC term,” Ethan Sapp, a student at UNCW, said.

“They can call it what they want. It’s my Christmas tree. That’s what I call it,” Wilmington resident Fred Smith said.

“It’s a federal holiday. It’s called Christmas. Even our own government recognizes this as being Christmas,” John Keilbler of Wilmington said.


  • Abby says:

    Its has and always will be called a Christmas tree. I don’t care if you like it or don’t, but Christmas is our Holiday and it is a Christmas tree. If you don’t like it get over it.

    Welcome to AMERICA….


  • Ed says:

    I am through with “politically correct.” It is a Christmas tree and if the city cannot call it that, they might as well not put one up. Those who are offended can stay away from it and do whatever they would like. Having a Christmas tree does not violate anyone’s rights, so get over it.

  • JezebelJean says:

    A Christmas tree is a symbol of Christmas. If you want to celebrate some other holiday, then get your own symbol. If you don’t want to celebrate the holiday of Christmas, then stay away from Christmas celebrations. Those of us who celebrate the birth of Christ are happy to let you celebrate whatever it is you want to celebrate. You are also always welcome at our Christmas celebrations as long as you recognize and respect that it is Christ’s birth that we are celebrating.

  • OtherGuest says:

    Regardless of one’s political or religious ideals, it is a Christmas tree, just as an Easter Bunny is an Easter Bunny and Uncle Sam is Uncle Sam.

    How simple can it be?

  • Dburney says:

    IT’S CHRISTmas!!! Enough said, get over it!!!

  • Guest1942 says:

    ACTUALLY….Saturnalia started Dec 17th and lasted until Dec 23rd. There was not significance of a CHRISTMAS TREE during this holiday. Hence it should be a CHRISTMAS tree not HOLIDAY tree!

  • Guest Reply says:

    How many of you out there have laid awake nights worried about this tree?
    If you don’t like the City Council…vote them out when election time is here. That will speak louder then words.
    There are bigger news stories in this World of ours that should be reported on instead of what a tree is referred to. It’s a tree and just enjoy the lights on it…not what Joe Blow calls it!
    Christmas tree or Holiday tree…any dog near by will take a leak on it!
    Heaven forbid that would happen with a dog…there would be people that would want it euthanized!!
    Ever since what’s her name moved back to New Jersey…Teen Mom…our news here has wondered off to amazing issues from, 2 kids fighting at school, to someone robbing a CVS store but it’s not known if anything was stolen or not:??????
    How can there be a robbery if they don’t know if anything was stolen?

  • Missy says:

    Why don’t they call a menorah a “holiday candle”??? or other religious symbols “holiday”? Because Christians are being unfairly singled out again.

  • Wilmington Observer says:

    Merry Christmas!!!

    Wilmington Observer

  • Guest Reply says:

    I bet if this tree knew this much would get stirred up over its existence (when it was a seed) it would have committed suicide back then…or gone on to become an onion :-(

  • Guest123 says:

    Teen Mom lives in Leland now.

  • Guest5678 says:

    Ancient Roman holiday- The renewal of light and the coming of the new year was celebrated in the later Roman Empire at the Dies Natalis of Sol Invictus, the “Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun,” on December 25.[6]

  • Guest 10101 says:

    You seem perfectly comfortable wishing others Happy “Holidays”. The word holiday comes from the Old English word “hāligdæg” which obviously translates into “Holy Day” in modern English.

  • Marie says:

    I just loved this comment

  • Marie says:

    We are not forcing our religion on anyone. You guys are trying to stop or change what we do believe in. We don’t bother or try to change your religious views.STOP trying to change our!

  • Ed White says:

    As an agnostic, I care what the tree is called, and I call it a Christmas tree. The Christmas story is a beautiful, magical, poetic story that should be respected even by those who do not believe in it.

    Secular militants are hateful in their demands, and I know some of them personally. They seem to want to take away the beauty of religion–the music, the art, the poetry.

    If they do not consider a Christmas tree or nativity “appropriate” because it is “religious,” then they should consider both as folk art. BEAUTIFUL FOLK ART!

    Merry Christmas to all . . . from an agnostic!

  • Guest Reply says:

    (A message to the city of Wilmington. Its not a Holiday tree or a Holiday Parade. Don’t forget the only reason for the season for the “Jesus Christ”.)…………

    Jesus Christ and charge cards!!
    Next year they should put up a Fake Tree…then no one will say a thing…unless of course the tree has a tag hanging on it saying…”Made in China”.
    Can we see an arial view of this tree on Google Earth yet? If not…when WWAY?

  • Dani says:

    That’s not a bad thing. We may actually start socially moving forward at a faster pace if we become more secular.

    By the way, go look up the world’s most successful and peaceful countries, like the Scandinavian ones. They are all highly secular.

  • Das Weibstück says:

    As an Atheist I couldn’t care less what you call this tree.

    We have a tree every year, its a Santa tree so Santa has a place to put gifts. There are no religious ornaments or decorations in our house. The decorated tree tradition was around long before Christians adopted it for their day.

    Chill out folks.

  • Guest Reply says:

    “Teen Mom lives in Leland now”

    There’s goes Christmas…excuse me…Holiday!

  • ChefnSurf says:

    … and forms of celebration while also adhering To the law.”

    Not true twice.

    (1) It is blatently disrespectful to Christians to refer to the tree as a “holiday” tree.
    (2 “The National Christmas Tree is a large evergreen tree located in the northeast quadrant of the The Ellipse near the White House in Washington, D.C. Each year since 1923, the tree has been decorated as a Christmas tree.” If it’s been OK to have the National “Christmas” Tree on the lawn of the White House for the last 89 years, I would guess the law’s just fine the way it is. Wilmington’s not adhering to the law, it’s redefining it.

  • JezebelJean says:

    The name of the holiday is CHRISTmas, not Saturnmas. One would think that a holiday named Christmas has something to do with Christ. If people want to celebrate saturnalia or the sun or Santa, then be our guest, but Christmas celebrates Christ.

  • Guest211 says:


  • carolina flyer says:

    A message to the city of Wilmington. Its not a Holiday tree or a Holiday Parade. Don’t forget the only reason for the season for the “Jesus Christ”.

  • Guest2012 says:

    Sadly, I’ve noticed that ministers and pastors and priests are AFRAID to speak up against the continuous assault on Christianity, so it is no wonder that their congregations don’t give a rats a$$ either.

    People are dropping out of churches like flies, and once they do, they usually never return…so, before long, we will be 100% secular!!

    Don’t forget to send your Pastor, Priest or Minister a Holiday Card!!!

  • Vog46 says:

    Being fairly new here I guess you’re not aware of our previous city sponsored traditions.

    We used to celebrate the lighting at the water treatment plant with as the CITY CALLED IT : “The world’s oldest living CHRISTMAS tree”

    Yep that’s right, the city actually mentioned Christ – and did it for years. So as a reporter perhaps you can explain why the hard question wasn’t asked of the city – what changed it from the oldest living Christmas tree 2 years ago to holiday tree today?
    I am truly glad to hear that you celebrate the holiday as Christmas as do many others………but this does not excuse WWAY (or YOU) for falling for the pablum the city puts out.

    Please, being milquetoast seems below you… better next time.


  • Guest2314332 says:

    WAYYYYYYYYYY before Christmas came to be, the Holiday on Dec 25th was called Saturnalia. Do some research. Happy Holidays all! Or Christmas if you believe in that. But please don’t force your religious views or holidays on others.

  • margaret bailey says:

    it’s christmas ! there is a reason for the season. if the word christmas offends people they have way more issues than words. maybe if they worried more about why we have the holiday they wouldn’t be so judgemental over words.

  • Guest Redneck Across the River says:

    I don’t understand why it is so hard for some people to say “Christmas”. That is exactly what it is. If asked what the “holiday” is, the answer would be “Christmas”, so why not call it that? Even though I am not a follower of any organized religion, I am not offended by anyone practicing their own beliefs regardless of what it is. This is what America is all about, and to change the name of one of the most important days of the year to to stay within the guidelines of this so-called “political correctness” to appease a few idiots seems totally ridiculous to me. Merry Christmas to all……

  • Guest33 says:

    Another pagan holiday is now upon us and those that think they are Christians are once again being deceived in into worshiping (shop till you drop) the birth of may pagan gods which are born on the Dec. 25. Christ was not born on Dec. 25 but around Sept/Nov. Christmas is about putting yourself into debt/bondage. Santa Claus is also pagan, the Christmas tree, pagan read the following KJV…Jeremiah 10:2 …about the Christmas tree. Maybe ‘Happy Pagan Holidays’ would be more appropriate.

  • GuestReality says:

    The History of Christmas:

    It is believed that the first celebrations of Christ’s birth were originally grouped together with Epiphany, one of the earliest feasts of the Christian church observed on January 6. This holiday recognized the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles by remembering the visit of the Magi (wise men) to Bethlehem and, in some traditions, the baptism of Jesus and his miracle of turning water into wine. Today the feast of Epiphany is observed predominately in liturgical denominations such as Eastern Orthodox, Anglican and Catholic.

    Even as far back as the second and third centuries, we know church leaders disagreed about the appropriateness of birthday celebrations within the Christian church. Some men like Origen felt birthdays were pagan rituals for pagan gods. And since the date of Christ’s actual birth had not been recorded, these early leaders speculated and argued about the date.

    Some sources report that Theophilus of Antioch (circa 171-183) was the first to identify December 25 as the birth date of Christ. Others say that Hippolytus (circa 170-236) was the first to claim that Jesus was born on December 25. A strong theory suggests that this date was eventually chosen by the church because it aligned closely with a major pagan festival, dies natalis solis invicti (birth of the invincible sun god), thus allowing the church to claim a new celebration for Christianity.

    Ultimately, December 25 was chosen, perhaps as early as A.D. 273. By 336 A.D., the Roman church calender definitively records a nativity celebration by Western Christians on this date. Eastern churches maintained the January 6 commemoration together with Epiphany until sometime in the fifth or sixth centuries when the 25th day of December became the widely accepted holiday. Only the Armenian church held to the original celebration of Christ’s birth with Epiphany on January 6.
    My family doesn’t put itself in bondage every year with debt. We save pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, and $1 bills in a very large jar all during the year. They add up to a nice amount by the end of the year, although we do sometimes add a little more if someone wants something special that costs more than what we saved. It’s never enough to put us into heavy debt. We always remind our children that Jesus is the real reason for the season, and that they get gifts like Jesus was given gifts from the Magi. We don’t worship a Christmas tree; we worship the living Christ. I see nothing wrong with decorating a tree with lights to remind us of his wonderful birth…..but rave on, if you must.

  • Guest324 says:

    This biblical verse is about not following predictions from fortune tellers-get your scripture right- here is the whole passage-and it is about making an idol AND worshipping it-WE don not worship trees!!!10 Hear what the Lord says to you, people of Israel. 2 This is what the Lord says:

    “Do not learn the ways of the nations
    or be terrified by signs in the heavens,
    though the nations are terrified by them.
    3 For the practices of the peoples are worthless;
    they cut a tree out of the forest,
    and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.
    4 They adorn it with silver and gold;
    they fasten it with hammer and nails
    so it will not totter.
    5 Like a scarecrow in a cucumber field,
    their idols cannot speak;
    they must be carried
    because they cannot walk.
    Do not fear them;
    they can do no harm
    nor can they do any good.”

    6 No one is like you, Lord;
    you are great,
    and your name is mighty in power.
    7 Who should not fear you,
    King of the nations?
    This is your due.
    Among all the wise leaders of the nations
    and in all their kingdoms,
    there is no one like you.

    8 They are all senseless and foolish;
    they are taught by worthless wooden idols.
    9 Hammered silver is brought from Tarshish
    and gold from Uphaz.
    What the craftsman and goldsmith have made
    is then dressed in blue and purple—
    all made by skilled workers.
    10 But the Lord is the true God;
    he is the living God, the eternal King.
    When he is angry, the earth trembles;
    the nations cannot endure his wrath.

    11 “Tell them this: ‘These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.’”[a]

  • Guest 10101 says:

    - Those of us who believe in Christianity do not consider shopping as worshipping. We actually know the difference between shopping and worship.
    – The actual date of Christ’s birth is indeterminate. Seeing that some other religions were already using approximately Dec 25th for festivals, church leaders decided to use the date and introduce a new festival to promote Christianity (Hey, even then people knew the value of advertising). It has been used by Western Christians since 336 A.D.
    – Christmas isn’t about debt and bondage. If there was a holiday about that, it would probably be called “Sado-Masochistic Mortgage Day”, not “Christmas”.
    – Santa Claus’ origin is folkloric, not pagan. It is based on hagiographical tales of a gift giving saint, possibly going all the way back to Basil of Caesarea, an early Christian leader.
    – Jeremiah 10:2 isn’t about Christmas trees. It’s part of a larger passage (verses 1 thru 16) which refers to cutting down trees to carve into idols. Post KJV translations, which had the advantage of more accurate translation techniques (and computers), substitute the word axe with the word chisel (for carving wood into an idol), which makes that abundantly clear.

    No one is telling you to celebrate Christmas. I respect your right to view the holiday any way you choose to. It would be nice if you respected my personal choice to celebrate Christmas as I choose to in return. Providing me with an inaccurate, condescending list of reasons why I shouldn’t isn’t really doing that.

    Have a very merry “Christmas”.

  • Guest1118 says:

    “By using the word
    ‘Holiday,’ the City of Wilmington is trying to maintain a balancing act between the
    Constitutional rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion. We make every
    effort to be respectful of all beliefs and forms of celebration while also adhering
    To the law.”

    That’s just ridiculous. By trying not to offend religions that don’t celebrate Christmas they’re taking a symbol of Christmas and reducing it to nothing. Just have NO tree if you don’t want to offend. There’s only ONE holiday with a tree and that’s Christmas. I have come to loathe and despise the word “holiday” which, by the way, is derived from “holy day”. Take that, you whiny, wimpy, spineless PC libs.

  • Patrick says:

    Oh, the city’s statement is just hilarious.

    They can’t have the gall to call a Christmas tree by its proper name, but they can take a LEGAL STATE HOLIDAY off for CHRISTMAS DAY. Not Holiday Day, not Seasonal Day, not Santa Day, not Liberal Crybaby Day, not Hanukkah…. CHRISTMAS DAY.

    When the city employees and the Mayor work on Christmas, I’ll take their PC gibberish spiel seriously. Even then, it’s still ridiculous, because you don’t call a Halloween costume a Holiday costume, you don’t call a Hanukkah menorah a Holiday candlestick, and you don’t call a Christmas tree a holiday tree. I’d rather the state just forfeit hosting this event than this nonsense.

    The WHITE HOUSE has a “Christmas” tree. How is that not exactly the example the city would look to? The Supreme Court has ruled numerous times that Christmas trees are a legal icon of the secular Christmas season, and even that NATIVITY SCENES are legal to display if they are part of an OVERARCHING, OVERALL secular purpose. The city is embarrassingly politically correct… and so is all of America. Why are we ruining Christmas? Why are we making the best holiday on earth into a generic boring non-specific nothing?

  • Ken says:

    I wonder how the government changing it’s designation of Dec. 24th and 25th from Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to Holiday Eve and Holiday Day would go over with Americans? Hmmmm How about the renaming of Jewish Holidays with Generic names or maybe renaming some Muslim Holidays with Generic names. It is my CHRISTMAS TREE. Now if you do not celebrate Christmas, and I have friends that do not celebrate Christmas, I respect that, however when you do celebrate one of your religious holidays I will not demand you stop insulting me or forcing me to live through your holiday, such as it may be. I will wish all a Merry Christmas and if some of you choose to wish me Happy Holidays I will accept that too. It has a name and it is called “LIVE AND LET LIVE”.

  • Grand Ole Party says:

    Calling a Christmas tree a holiday tree is just plain ignorant. Enough with the political correctness crap.

  • Screech says:

    I am horribly offended that these PC bureaucrats would change the name of a long held tradition. This is truly offensive. I guess it is OK for me to be offended as long as some small minority is not offended. Why do my sensitivities take a back seat to some one else? Who writes the rules on whose sensitivities are coddled and whose are trashed? Sounds like discrimination to me.

  • immy says:

    Well, maybe we should call Halloween Pumpkin Day since some object to the theme of the day..or maybe we should call Thanksgiving Day feast day since some do not believe in God, to Whom we give thanks…or, well , you get the point….

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