Christmas tree or holiday tree? What to call it.

Christmas Tree or Holiday Tree?

Every year about this time there is a discussion about whether we should call it a Holiday Tree or a Christmas Tree.  John the Plant Man not only has an opinion but also a defense for that opinion.  Read on…

A Douglas fir tree carefully decorated for the Christmas season

A Douglas fir tree carefully decorated for the Christmas season

 I guess it doesn’t matter if someone wants to call it a Holiday Tree, but it does make me wonder about their understanding of word meaning and logic. I might even worry about their intelligence, but not to a great extent.. For myself, I choose to refer to it as a “Christmas Tree”.  In this debate, I am however, more concerned about the abuse that we heap on semantics and the English language

For example, you have heard the age old question:  “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one hears it, does it make a sound?”

The answer is different than expected.  It depends on the definition of the word “sound”.  If the definition of the word “sound” requires a sonic disturbance as well as a receiver, then it doesn’t make a sound.  If the definition requires only a sonic disturbance, then it does, indeed, make a sound.

Definitions answer many questions.

This is a frazier fir.  If it fell in the forest, would it make a sound?

This is a frazier fir. If it fell in the forest, would it make a sound?

It follows, therefore, that the tree decorated for the holiday observed on December 25 every year should be called a “Christmas Tree.”  It’s as simple as that. Of course, it has to be decorated for Christmas to be a Christmas tree.  Otherwise, it would be a fir tree or a pine tree or a plastic tree, etc.

The definition in the Merriam Webster dictionary appears as:

“n  A tree, usually evergreen, decorated at Christmas time”

You have probably heard of a “Yule log”

This is defined as “a large log formerly put on the hearth on Christmas Eve as a foundation for the fire.”

That’s what that particular item is.  It is a yule log.  That is its name by definition. We wouldn’t call it a “holiday log.”   Heck, Mike, a log is a log.

President Lincoln was once talking with a farmer about whether or not to call a territory a state.

Mr. Lincoln asked the farmer:  “Sir, how many legs does the cow have?”

The farmer knew the answer:  “Why, Mr. President, the cow has four legs.”

Mr. Lincoln then asked:  “And if we call the cow’s tail a leg, then how many?”

“Why” answered the farmer:  “Then the cow would have five legs.”

“That, sir is where you’re wrong” replied the president.

“Merely calling the tail a leg doesn’t make it one.”

So, taking all religious arguments out of the question (just to level the playing field):

A tree, usually evergreen, decorated for the Christmas season is defined as a “Christmas tree”

You may call it anything else

For instance,

You may call it a “holiday tree”

But that doesn’t make it one.

Here are the choices, side by side:

This would be a Christmas tree.  Any other name would be incorrect.

This would be a Christmas tree. Any other name would be incorrect.

This is a frasier fir tree.  It even has a botanical name for exactness

This is a frasier fir tree. It even has a botanical name for exactness





Now what will you call a tree that is decorated for Christmas?     

   A Christmas tree, a holiday tree, or a  fir tree, or a pine tree, or a plastic tree ?

Join the discussion, leave a comment

John P. Schulz

And for a wonderful present to put under your Christmas tree, Get an autographed copy of the book that is all about the adventures of John the Plant Man and his acquaintances and friends–The outrageous “Requiem for a Redneck” Now available as an ebook

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7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Karen R. Epperson
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 16:25:44

    After decorating my tree with all the special baubles, ornaments and whatnot at Christmas, I would consider the finished tree the family Christmas Tree. I wish there was a way to send you a picture on your blog of the tree. I gave my daughter all my special ornaments, the handblown soap bubble ornaments and beautiful crystal pieces which I had collected over the last thirty years. I gave them to her, as each year, I took her picture in front of that very special tree. Now she can continue the tradition with her very special little girl and tell her about the special meaning of the Christmas tree…..


  2. David Brown
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 16:46:25

    You’re right, John. It’s a dang Christmas tree. Even if you’re a pagan or a smart-ass atheist. Happy Yule!


  3. ponygirl
    Dec 02, 2009 @ 21:21:51

    Oh shoot! I just heard my Christmas tree fall!


  4. Jane Schulz
    Dec 03, 2009 @ 02:43:36

    I can hear your dad singing “Oh Tannebaum” and don’t think he had a song for “Oh Holiday Tree.” That’s enough for me.


  5. Tina Lauder
    Dec 08, 2009 @ 19:18:39

    My heart tells me that it doesn’t matter what we call it, what matters is that we allow everyone the freedom to call it what they want to. Our family calls it a “Christmas Tree”, I know others that call it a “Holiday Tree”, and its alright…Acceptance is key.


  6. Claudia Kennedy
    Dec 04, 2015 @ 18:47:29

    Honestly, I’ve never head it call a Holiday Tree. That would beg the question, what holiday? Easter is a holiday, if we call it a holiday tree, can I leave it up til Easter and put Peter Rabbit under it, hang colored eggs on it? I kinda like that. I’m pretty much worn out by the time I take ours down on Epihany, Jan. 6. Thanks for the idea, JP. I’ll give you credit and explain that it was YOUR idea….


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