The Christmas Tree – nuanced exclusion?

A recent study out of Simon Fraser University took a look at the Christmas tree and its (probably unintended) effect of making those who don’t celebrate Christmas feel excluded:

When people who did not celebrate Christmas or who did not identify as Christian filled out surveys about their moods while in the same room as a small Christmas tree, they reported less self-assurance and fewer positive feelings than if they hadn’t been reminded of the holiday, according to a new study.

Interestingly, celebrators and non-celebrators of Christmas expressed that they thought that the decorations would make them feel happier, but the responses to the survey among test groups indicated otherwise for non-celebrators.

This is not to suggest that Christmas Trees be banned – far from it. I think it just emphasizes the subtle nuances of various celebrations and the effects it has on different people with whom we might work, live, study or socialize.

It also suggests that those who don’t celebrate Christmas should probably be more aware of how they are feeling towards Christian celebrations as much as they would like Christians to be aware of the celebrations of other faiths.

Of course, I like to remind people who object to the Christmas Tree that the tradition itself was probably not originally a Christian one, but was adopted by Christians later from the pagan tradition of decorating trees and homes with evergreens during the winter solstice. Interpretation of certain passages in the Bible suggests that the practice of decorating a tree is forbidden, as this was a pagan practice in the Middle East.

One could argue that the tradition of erecting and decorating a tree during winter has come full circle to its cultural, non-Christian roots (pun intended). In any case, erecting and decorating a tree during the winter can certainly be a non-denominational tradition and it would seem to behoove both Christians and non-Christians to be aware and self-aware about it.


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