BANGOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --- Decorations in downtown Bangor are a staple of the holiday season. Yet recently the tree that stands tall in the middle of the city this time of year has been prompting discussion. City officials in Bangor call the tree a holiday tree --- not a Christmas tree. The name for the tree was changed about 15 years ago when the city's 'Christmas Parade' became the 'Festival of Lights' parade. According to Steven Robbins, who was hired by the city of Bangor to organize the parade, it was in an effort to be more politically correct.
On Tuesday NEWS CENTER asked many our followers on Facebook how they felt about that. In response, we got more than 600 comments and people said they feel the tree should be called a 'Christmas Tree.'
On Wednesday some people who walked by the tree had their own views to share. "I feel it should be called 'holiday tree'," said Jeff Crandall of Bangor, "because Bangor's a diverse city...it should reflect all person's of Bangor."
"This nation was founded on Christianity," remarked Donna Leland of Bangor,"this is a Christmas three...and as such for me this will always be a Christmas tree...not a holiday tree."
City officials say while the tree has had the name 'holiday tree' for years, they've never really taken any strong arguments against that.
Our Facebook question also showed that the abbreviated form of Christmas or 'Xmas' is also offensive to many Christians who feel it is an attempt to take Christ out of Christmas. When we posed the question on our Facebook page, we used the abbreviated term and it sparked a big response.
Leslie England wrote "Not an X-mas tree a CHRISTmas tree!!! We have to keep Christ in Christmas!!"
Linda Arsenault added this comment: "Christmas tree and it is Christmas, not xmas, when anyone uses the xmas it crosses Christ out of Christmas and we want to keep him in the holiday. Merry Christmas to all."
While many people do feel this way, some scholars say the word 'Xmas' is not a modern term invented for secular Christmas celebrations but a word dating back decades, if not centuries, that is linked to the symbol for 'Christ.'
According to Pauleena MacDougall, a faculty associate in Anthropology at U Maine and the Director of Maine Folklife Center, the 'X' in 'Xmas' refers to the Greek Letter 'Chi'. That's the first letter in the Greek name for Christ. It is also part of the Chi Rho monogram, a symbol for christ which appears as an X intersected with a P.