Tuesday, November 29, 2005

No more 'holiday' trees at Capitol; Grinches lose as Chrsitmas Tree returns

Score one for the good guys. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, a Wheaton College graduate and practicing evangelical, rescued the "Capitol Christmas Tree" from "generification." In the history of the culture wars, this will not even qualify as a minor skirmish. However, one cannot help but be grateful for every victory, no matter how small and symbolic.

By Gary Emerling
November 29, 2005

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert has told federal officials that the lighted, decorated tree on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol -- known in recent years as the "Holiday Tree" -- should be renamed the "Capitol Christmas Tree," as it was called until the late 1990s.

The Capitol's senior landscape architect confirmed the name switch yesterday for The Washington Times.

"It was known as the 'Holiday Tree' for several years and just recently was changed back to the 'Capitol Christmas Tree.' This was a directive from the speaker," said Capitol architect Matthew Evans.

"The speaker believes a Christmas tree is a Christmas tree, and it is as simple as that," said Ron Bonjean, spokesman for the Illinois Republican.

The Capitol tree, traditionally overshadowed by the White House's "National Christmas Tree," was renamed a "holiday tree" several years ago, according to the Capitol Architect's offices, in an effort to acknowledge the other holidays of Kwanzaa and Hanukkah -- although no one seemed to know exactly when the name was changed or by whom.

Calling a Christmas tree a Christmas tree has become a politically charged prospect in jurisdictions across the country -- from Boston to Sacramento and in dozens of communities in between.

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