The Christmas Wars are really heating up, and December’s only just started. From Rhode Island, the setting of the Supreme Court’s first Christmas display case, Lynch v. Donnelly (1984), a new controversy over what to call the 17-foot blue spruce that decorates the statehouse. Governor Lincoln Chafee insists on referring to it as the state “Holiday Tree” rather than “Christmas Tree,” a decision that has exposed him to some ridicule, with critics accusing him of triviality and political correctness. The governor argues that “Holiday Tree” is more consistent with Rhode Island’s long tradition of separating religion and government. No word yet whether the governor will also seek to change the name of the state capital, Providence (est. 1636), so that it too conforms to state tradition.

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