The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 9, 2005


Heard Around Town
What do you call the lighted tree on the Green?

The tree on the Green glows brightly on these dark winter nights.(Photo by Lois d'Annunzio)

There's a controversy around the nation about the naming of traditional winter events originally scheduled to celebrate a specific Christian religious holiday. A Girl Scout troop in California protested by refusing to march in a parade when its name reverted to Christmas Parade after being called a Holiday Parade. People in Boston and New York City have been struggling with the renaming of their municipal lighted tree from "Christmas Tree" to "Holiday Tree." Even First Lady Laura Bush has been asked what she calls the decorated tree at the White House. (FYI, she calls it a "Christmas Tree.")

In step with the national trend, the Carlisle Mosquito asked town residents what they call the lighted tree on the Carlisle Green, a Christmas Tree or a Holiday Tree? The tree, illuminated annually at the Red Balloon preschool's tree lighting ceremony, was lighted on Monday, December 5, as part of a "Winter Festival." The school, with respect to its non-denominational admission policies, decided to sponsor a visit from "Frosty the Snowman" versus the traditional, but Christian, figure of "Santa Claus," previously known as St. Nicholas, commonly called St. Nick in the United States.

History indicates that Nicholas of Myra lived in Lycia of Asia Minor (c. 270 to 343 A.D.). This bishop, famous for good deeds and alleged miracles, was subsequently canonized by the Catholic pope as St. Nicholas. In fact, the Netherlands and many former Dutch colonies celebrate December 6, the anniversary of Nicholas's death, as their primary gift-giving holiday in the winter. On the eve of December 5, children put out their slippers to receive gifts. Perhaps the lighting of the tree on December 5 could be a celebration of a cultural event in Carlisle? Let the Dutch community speak!

This Mosquito reporter asked Carlisleans at a very secular location, the town transfer station, "What do you call the lighted tree on the Green?"

Although nine people do not represent the entire town, there does seem to be one overwhelming belief in Carlisle: a Christmas Tree by any other name may smell as sweet, but it sure doesn't feel the same.

- Van Smick, Heald Road
"A Christmas Tree because that's what it is."
- Liz Rambauske, Acton Street
"Loud and clear, a Christmas Tree because it's Christmas."
"A Christmas Tree because it goes back to our heritage. It goes back a couple thousand years. The Christmas Tree actually comes out from Germany and Norse mythology; it was part of their pagan heritage but it was adopted as a Christian, a Christmas, symbol and it's been around for a couple of hundreds of years in this country as a Christmas symbol and it should stay that way."
- Preston Holleman, Shady Brook Lane  

- Yishan Cheng, Stoney Gate Way
"I think it's a Christmas Tree."
- Mark Ashvelt, Heald Road
"I call it a Christmas Tree because that's what it is."

- Simon Platt, Peter Hans Road
"I certainly wouldn't call it a holiday tree! I'm from England."
- Bob Tinker, Rutland Street
"I call it a Christmas Tree because that's what it is."

- Claude Williamson, Milne Cove Lane
"Holiday tree, because it's a holiday,"
- George Fardy, Rockland Road
"I call it a Christmas Tree."

(All headshots by Anne Marie Brako)

2005 The Carlisle Mosquito