Christmas tree or holiday tree? Debate comes to Milwaukee

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A debate in Madison over whether to call a ceremonial tree a "Christmas tree" or a "holiday tree" has reached Milwaukee.

It’s become a charged question since Governor Tony Evers said the evergreen that goes up every year in the Capitol is a "holiday tree" last week.

Advocates for the separation of church and state applauded him for it. In response to Evers, the State Assembly passed a resolution declaring it a Christmas tree.

Anna Goldstein, a Jewish person living in Milwaukee, agrees. “It is a Christmas tree." 

“Jewish people, Muslim people, Buddhist people, we don’t put up trees for our holidays," said Goldstein. 

Goldstein believes different religions and cultures should be recognized and embraced.

“It’s totally OK to have a Christmas tree to be celebrating that holiday,” Goldstein said. “It is what the majority of people in our state celebrate, but if you want to be inclusive I would bring in other holiday relics or other traditions from other religions.”

Steve Campbell values inclusiveness also, but he feels calling it a "holiday tree" does the job.

“A Christmas tree implies Christianity,” sad Campbell. “If you call it a holiday tree it involves all the other religions, including Christianity.”

The tree will go up in December, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos thinks he knows what people will call it.

“99% of Americans, if you held up a picture and it was an evergreen with ornaments on it, they’d say ‘Oh, that’s a Christmas tree,'" said Vos. 

Wisconsin politicians started calling it a holiday tree in 1985. Former Governor Scott Walker declared it a Christmas tree in 2011.

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