The HB Holiday Tree

by Ellie Roberto

In the few days before the sweet release of winter break, the holiday tree is assembled and decorated in the atrium. For those of you who don’t know, the holiday tree was donated to the school by an alumni family and meant to be put in the atrium every year around this time. To me and for many, the tree is a symbol of the long awaited winter break. Most students can agree on that. However, the  question that still remains is whether to call it a Christmas tree or a holiday tree.

When asked about their general opinion of the holiday tree, many students said they love the tree’s spirit and wish it was up longer. Despite these positive reviews, there is still quite a bit of controversy surrounding the tree. Many people at HB think that there isn’t enough representation of non-Christian religious traditions around the school. The tree, obviously, is associated with the Christian holiday Christmas. But as we are a non-secular private school where all religions should be represented equally, we cannot call it a Christmas tree. The name, “holiday tree” is meant to be inclusive and not give the impression that we are a Christian school.

I asked some students about the controversy that the tree sometimes brings up and their opinions were all fairly similar. Erica Kahn (18) thinks that its great that we celebrate all the holidays but she argues that some faiths are better represented than others. Ela Passerelli (18) said she loves the tree and that we should definitely keep it, but she would like to be more inclusive of all religions and add other religious holiday symbols to all the classrooms. I agree with Ela and think it would be good to have different holidays represented in classrooms as a constant reminder of the diversity we posses at HB. Many students I asked said they weren’t surprised that Christmas was the holiday most represented at school because that’s how it usually is outside of school. A friend of mine brought up another interesting point. She said, “We don’t we call a menorah, ‘holiday candles,’ so why not just call it a Christmas tree.”

Each opinion should be thought about because the tree brings up some important questions for the community to think about and discuss. The same controversial ideas can be discussed about Winter Fest (aka Ideo) too. Should we process round singing songs about Jesus when not everyone is of the same faith? Should we acknowledge that the tree is a Christmas tree, like we do with menorahs? Do we need more representation of other religions? All important questions to consider in the busy final week of school and beyond.