While perusing the Long Island PrimeTime Hewlett/Woodmere edition, released this past Saturday, the Long Island Catholic Examiner noticed an advertisement for the Green Acres Mall second annual “Tree Lighting Ceremony,” taking place on November 22. Having been a resident of the area since birth, the name, which omits Christmas, struck a nasty chord.
The advertisement evoked a similar issue over the “Holiday Tree Lighting” ceremony in Mount Sinai from December of 2011. Why then, after the media attention that surrounded the Suffolk County town’s choice of name, would Green Acres Mall simply label a Christmas tradition just a “Tree Lighting Ceremony.” Rockefeller Center, which commemorates the biggest tree lighting celebration in the country, if not the world, doesn’t falter in labeling the tradition exactly what it is, the “Christmas Tree Lighting.”
Green Acres Mall touts the best-looking Santa on Long Island, or at least one of. The mall has invited children to participate with free wands to help light the tree. When did wands come to symbolize Christmas, the celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth? The advertisement promotes “music, entertainment, face painting and giveaways,” all fine to entice shoppers. To encourage photos with Santa, more mall revenue, milk and cookies will be offered to enjoy with Mr. Clause. So, it’s ok to mention Santa, but not call the ceremony a “Christmas Tree Lighting.” As a matter of fact, there is no mention of any of the holidays celebrated this time of year in the promo.
People of all faiths have had enough with political correctness during the holidays. Memes inundate social media telling users it’s ok to say Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Joyous Kwanzaa; recipients will “not be offended.” Take note Green Acres Mall; if it was merely a “Tree Lighting Ceremony” it could occur any time of year.
Coming from a Catholic perspective, a Christmas tree should only be called that. To deem it merely a tree with lights removes the history behind it. During the seventh century, a monk from Devonshire used the fir tree to teach the word of God in the region that is now Germany and explain the Holy Trinity. The triangular shape of the tree represents The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit.
During the twelfth century in Central Europe the Christmas Tree was hung upside down from the ceiling as a symbol of Christianity. Later, Martin Luther decorated it with candles amid the sixteenth century to show his children how the stars twinkled in the dark night.
The Christmas tree is a symbol of Christianity. The lights represent Jesus Christ as the light of the world and the stars that led the shepherds and kings to visit the King of Kings who was born for our salvation. All religions need to be respected just as the symbols that represent them. To call the Christmas tree simply a “tree” diminishes it’s meaning and negates the symbolism that Catholics and Christians revere this time of year.
Green Acres Mall has been a mainstay in the area of Long Island since 1956. Management was unavailable for comment at the time the advertisement for the “Tree Lighting Ceremony” was released, but more attempts will be made the week ahead, along with updates this column. Of note, the mall is scheduled to open 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving.