In response to Bill Nemitz’s Nov. 19 column regarding the Monument Square “pine tree” — I am sick and tired of all this political correctness.

Call it what it is. A dog is a dog, a cat is a cat, and this is a Christmas tree! It is a symbol of the Christian holiday of Christmas, nothing else.

The Jewish faith calls a menorah a menorah. (Or is there going to be a new name for that? How about “holiday candlestick”?)

We are reminded with notices about Ramadan and its feast of Eid al-Fitr, as well, nothing wrong with using that, is there? Let people celebrate what they want. You can even put up your Festivus pole for all I care!

In fear of offending a few who don’t celebrate the holiday, we are offending the majority of people who lovingly do celebrate it. So, Portland, call it what it is.

If some are offended, they don’t need to look at it or walk by it — but please don’t spoil it for the majority who enjoy the Christmas tree for what it is.

And Mr. Nemitz, if you are so concerned about offending someone, don’t write about it.

Enough said. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Tom Gallagher


The tree in Monument Square is a Christmas tree. To call it otherwise is to unnecessarily instigate social disharmony.

We don’t refer to a menorah as simply a candlestick nor to the Koran as just a book.

Considering how often religion gives us pain (the Inquisition, 9/11, etc.), why not just enjoy the good things that any religion offers?

Life’s hard enough as it is. The argument that sales might suffer does not even deserve consideration.

Edward Materson

Cape Elizabeth

I follow the “let each do as he will” philosophy, meaning that in a genteel society, all people can observe their religious beliefs by expressing them as they see fit.

This year there were stories of the long month of Ramadan, during which Muslims fasted for their God. Next, the blast of the Shofar and stories of Rosh Hashanah as Jews reflected upon their God’s sovereignty, then Yom Kippur, as Jews sought to atone for sins to their God.

Then, Halloween, with its roots in Druidic worship, was celebrated, and now, I’m getting ready for Thanksgiving, wherein the Pilgrims thanked their God for helping them make it through a hard year.

But, come to Christmas, celebrated by Christians by, among other things, decorating Christmas trees, and suddenly everyone looks askance.

The city of Portland spent money to get a Christmas tree, yet refuses to call it such.

Just what holiday are we celebrating? I mean, why are we celebrating the “winter holiday”?

There’s no mud season holiday celebration. No summer season holiday, either — so, other than just to whip up a shopping frenzy, why are we celebrating the cold, dark end of December?

To celebrate the birth of the Christian God, of course.

If Christians wish to celebrate their God, and if someone, like the city, wants in by copying Christian symbols, then the city should call that symbol what it is, or forgo the pleasure.

It’s a Christmas tree!

Meanwhile, happy Thanks-to-God-giving, and a very merry Christmas.

Michael Torrusio Jr.


About this annual “holiday tree” discussion that has cropped up in recent years surrounding what to call the giant spruce that adorns Portland’s Monument Square — folks, let’s just call it what it is.

It’s a Christmas tree.

A sincere thank-you to those who seek not to offend those of us who don’t celebrate Christmas; that is considerate but unnecessary.

Let me tell you, as someone who grew up Christian then converted to Judaism, it’s OK. I’m actually worried about you.

Whether Christmas for you is a religious holiday or a more secular tradition, the fact is that its roots, and those of the tree that represents it, are indeed Christian; to rename one of the holiday’s most salient symbols diminishes its meaning, which would seem most offensive of all.

Many of the rest of us see a decorated evergreen for what it is — a Christmas tree, and know that you, too, might shake your head at the suggestion that our menorah be called a “holiday candelabra.”

Doug Cook


To tree or not to tree, that is the question. Jeremiah, the Hebrew prophet, condemned as pagan the ancient Middle Eastern practice of cutting down trees, bringing them into the home and decorating them.

Of course he was not talking about Christmas trees, as Christ would not have been born for many more years, and when he was born, it was most likely not on Dec. 25.

But Jeremiah’s biblical words, and the fact that the celebration of the winter solstice with bonfires and candles was a pagan festival, were reasons that the Puritans in Colonial Plymouth and Boston forbid the celebration of Christmas, as do Jehovah’s Witnesses today. When Dickens’ Scrooge in his “Christmas Carol” says “humbug,” he says so for the same reasons.

I have seven children. They grew up in an agnostic home.

Some of them are Christians, two of them married Muslims, one married a Jewish lady and converted, and a third married a Jehovah’s Witness and converted.

Nevertheless, all except the Witness have always celebrated Dec. 25 with a tree and gift-giving.

The kids, and now their kids, take turns hosting the Christmas event, and this year it is the turn of my Muslim daughter and granddaughter.

There is something special about the season of the winter solstice when people are especially good to each other and wish for a world at peace where everyone we can all get along as we do.

I have always enjoyed the lighted tree, whatever it is called. But please, dear editor, whatever you call it, do not call it a “pine” tree!

John Chandler