Wis. Assembly votes to make ‘Holiday tree’ a ‘Christmas tree’

Wis. Assembly votes to make ‘Holiday tree’ a ‘Christmas tree’

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MADISON, Wis. - Oh holiday tree, oh holiday tree, what really shall we call thee?

If it were up to the state Assembly, the balsam fir in the Capitol Rotunda would be called what most visitors already think it is: a Christmas tree.

Officially, or at least since 1985, the tree decorated with ornaments and adorned with a star has been officially dubbed a holiday tree. The Assembly on Tuesday passed a resolution that changes the name to the "Wisconsin State Christmas Tree."

But don't count on the change happening before Christmas, this year or any other. The change must be approved by the Senate. And playing the role of the Grinch is Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, D-Schofield.

"Senator Decker thinks people can decide on their own what they want to call the tree," said his spokeswoman Carrie Lynch. The proposal won't be taken up by the Senate, she said.

Well, bah humbug.

Despite its nearly certain demise, Rep. Marlin Schneider, D-Wisconsin Rapids, pushed for the name change. He argued that it made sense to do it since it had been known as a Christmas tree from the first year it was displayed in 1916 until some previous Grinch changed the name in 1985.

The Assembly passed the resolution on an 84-12 vote with no debate.

The Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation opposed the change, saying that calling it a Christmas tree would offend nonreligious people and amount to a government endorsement of Christianity.

This year's tree, a 35-foot balsam fir donated by the Menominee Nation from tribal land near Neopit, is encircled by a model train and is a popular stop for school groups and other tourists.

Also on display in the Capitol Rotunda is a menorah, displays from a variety of religions, and a sign from the Freedom From Religion Foundation which calls religion "superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."

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