The “Merry Christmas wars” have become as constant a feature in our holiday preparations in recent years as colored lights and sleigh bells.

That’s the name given to the awkwardness some people feel about publicly observing a major religious holiday, and the hurt felt by others who see their traditions being taken away from them.

Court rulings that interpret the First Amendment’s ban on establishing a state religion as a ban on government-funded holiday observances in schools and public property add to the sense of unease.

This has led to what some in our community looks like an inconsistency: Monument Square is the site of a lighted tree, called, in an overabundance of sensitivity, just a tree (never mind what kind) by the people who put it up.

Then, on the first day of Hanukkah, Portland celebrated with the lighting of a menorah in City Hall Plaza.

Why does one religion get to have an overtly religious symbol of its holiday, but another has to be sneaky about putting up a marginally religious symbol of its?

The difference is that the tree was set up by a downtown business group that wants to maximize business. They are free to call it whatever they want and so are the rest of us. (We call it a Christmas tree.)

City Hall Plaza hosts the menorah and will soon host a Christmas tree as well. City officials say even more overtly religious demonstrations — like a nativity scene — could also be placed there without a legal problem.

As long as the government does not discriminate between religions, we can all celebrate, and there is nothing in this war to fight over.