Ed Driscoll

Good To See

Denny Hastert renames the capital’s “Holiday Tree“:

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert has told federal officials that the lighted, decorated tree on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol — known in recent years as the “Holiday Tree” — should be renamed the “Capitol Christmas Tree,” as it was called until the late 1990s.

The Capitol’s senior landscape architect confirmed the name switch yesterday for The Washington Times.

“It was known as the ‘Holiday Tree’ for several years and just recently was changed back to the ‘Capitol Christmas Tree.’ This was a directive from the speaker,” said Capitol architect Matthew Evans.

“The speaker believes a Christmas tree is a Christmas tree, and it is as simple as that,” said Ron Bonjean, spokesman for the Illinois Republican.

The Capitol tree, traditionally overshadowed by the White House’s “National Christmas Tree,” was renamed a “holiday tree” several years ago, according to the Capitol Architect’s offices, in an effort to acknowledge the other holidays of Kwanzaa and Hanukkah — although no one seemed to know exactly when the name was changed or by whom.

Calling a Christmas tree a Christmas tree has become a politically charged prospect in jurisdictions across the country — from Boston to Sacramento and in dozens of communities in between.

“It’s a growing problem,” said Jared N. Leland, spokesman and legal counsel for the Becket Fund, a District-based legal and educational institute. “Celebrating the season with Christmas trees … and leaving them named ‘Christmas’ is simply recognizing the religious nature of people. Christmas should be able to be called Christmas.”

(Via Mary Katharine Ham.)