One of the things that continues to bother me about current trends in society is the increasing determination to impart some relevency to words that have completely lost their meaning. Like “Christmas”. Seems that this year the debate and ruckus revolves around whether the traditional pagan symbol of the “Christmas Tree” should be referred to as a “Holiday Tree” instead. I’m not going to get into the “Merry Christmas versus Happy Holidays” debacle because it’s all the same silliness.
Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, not giving presents, although presents were purportedly given to the newborn which probably started the tradition and soon overtook the essential spirit behind the event. Now, I’m not a die-hard Christian, nor a true believer, but I do ascribe to the basic idea of a caring, spiritual, treat-others-as-you-would-have-them-treat-you, way of life. I’m also not getting into any discussion here over the traditional or modern interpretations of Christmas, etc. Essentially, I don’t care what religion is being espoused as long as it doesn’t impinge on my own personal belief system (in other words, don’t come to my door trying to convert me – but that’s another story). See, freedom of choice is one of the foundations of Christianity – in so much as freedom is allowed by a God who demands you obey and believe implicitly or you go to Hell (but that’s also another story).
So, what I (or you) believe, what spiritual meaning I (or you) give to “things”, is in no way shape or form related to how the “thing” is identified by name.
Claude Monet said “To see we must forget the name of the thing we are looking at”.
By relying upon the name of a thing, you tend to fail to look beyond to what it is, how it is, why it is, what it means or represents, how it relates to my/your life or the life of others. A name only serves to separate the thing from other things, to make it easier for people to discuss it and not get confused whether we’re talking about a car or a fork.
The name of a thing is a purely human construct arrived at through millennia of language development. Example: scientific nomenclature for animal and plant species (Latin names). The primary reason Linnaeus came up with this system of classification was because one person shouting “Hey, grab my ferret, will ya?” might not resonate with another who looks right at the animal and does nothing because to them it’s not a ferret, but a “polecat”. I’m sure you can think of many other examples of “common name mix-ups” – diaper/nappy, wagon/trolley, etc.
So, to call a pine tree (insert favorite species here) a Christmas Tree or a Holiday Tree, SDT (standing dead tree), firestarter, or to even boycott a dead tree merchant because their trees are not labeled “properly” is meaningless since most people are only referring to the very outer shell of the thing rather than what it is or symbolizes; which in the Christian sense is not the original meaning of the Yule tree anyway.
And, as far as we know, the tree doesn’t care what you call it, either.