Chicago, Friday, November 25, 2011. This week, Chicago's new mayor, Rahm Emanuel, flipped the switch--a double switch of sorts--on the 97-year-old tradition of Chicago's official Christmas tree. The first switch, which occurred quietly earlier in the week, was a name switch. Chicago's official Christmas tree is now a holiday tree. The second switch took place at dusk on Wednesday when Emanuel flipped the switch that turned the lights on Chicago's first holiday tree at the official tree lighting ceremony on Daley Plaza. Although the switch may be difficult for some--even the mayor, who is responsible for the change, stumbled just before flipping the switch when he referred to the holiday tree as a "Christmas Tree"--most of us will get used to it. Just as Marshall Field's is now Macy's: Comiskey Park is now U.S. Cellular Field and the Shubert Theater has been renamed the Bank of America Theatre-- this too will pass, maybe.
Outwardly the trees look the same, but there is a difference. To some, the difference matters. There are those who believe that the holiday tree is more inclusive, a tree that all can enjoy no matter their religion or beliefs. There are others, who believe that the tree should remain part of the Christian tradition and be called a Christmas Tree.
While Chicago now has an official holiday tree, just north of the border, Wisconsin now has an official "Christmas tree"--thanks or no thanks to Governor Scott Walker. Walker decided, after the 25-year history of having an official holiday tree in the Capital Rotunda, that it will now be called a Christmas tree.
What do you think--or do you care?