Lifestyle & Belief

Grinch governor calls Statehouse Christmas tree a “holiday tree”


Workers install the Christmas tree at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 28, 2011.


Win McNamee

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s insistence on calling the 17-foot Colorado spruce erected at the Statehouse a “holiday tree” rather than a “Christmas tree” is angering some Rhode Islanders, The Associated Press reported.

Legislators who voted for a resolution last January declaring that the tree displayed at the Statehouse each December should be referred to as a “Christmas tree and not as a ‘holiday tree’ or other non-traditional terms” are particularly miffed, Fox Radio reported. “He is refusing to honor what’s passed in the House of Representatives,” Rep. Doreen Costa, a co-sponsor of the resolution, told Fox News & Commentary. “That’s more concerning than anything else.”

“I’m sick of being politically correct,” Costa said. “Nobody’s been offended by calling a Christmas tree a Christmas tree. If we have a Menorah in the Statehouse, what are we going to call it – a candle with sticks?”

Chafee’s choice of words has also upset the head of the Roman Catholic church in Providence, the AP reported. Chafee's use of “holiday tree” is "most disheartening and divisive," Bishop Thomas Tobin said in a statement, the AP reported. It’s "an affront to the faith of many citizens,” he added.

Even the farmer who grew the tree in West Greenwich, R.I., is disappointed, the AP reported. "It's not a holiday tree or even an Xmas tree," Tree farmer John Leyden told the AP. "We're a Christmas tree farm. That's what the name is."

With the tree-lighting ceremony just six days away, Chafee said he would not change terms.

“Recently, some controversy has arisen regarding the holiday tree in the Statehouse Rotunda – a tree that stands mere feet from the Royal Charter that, more than three centuries ago, granted 'a full liberty in religious concernments' and 'the free exercise and enjoyment of all their civil and religious rights' to the inhabitants of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,” Chafee said in a statement released today, the Providence Journal reported. "Use of the term 'holiday tree' is a continuation of past practice, and does not represent a change of course on my part."