Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has gone back to calling the evergreen on display at the state Capitol a holiday tree, reversing his predecessor who declared it a Christmas tree. Former Governor Scott Walker made his displeasure known on Twitter with a comparison between Christmas trees and a Hanukkiah, the candle holder used in Hanukkah celebrations more commonly known as a menorah.
The state Department of Administration places a huge evergreen in the Capitol rotunda every year ahead of Christmas. The tree has been a tradition in the Capitol since 1916.
Politicians called it a Christmas tree until 1985, when they began referring to it as a holiday tree to avoid perceptions that they were endorsing religion. DOA allows other groups to place displays in the rotunda as end-of-the-year holidays approach, including a menorah and a Festivus pole, a nod to the fictional holiday in the “Seinfeld” television series. But the controversy over what to call the tree has never really died.
Walker also tweeted a picture of a holiday tree, writing “this is a Christmas tree used by people celebrating Christmas. This is not a holiday tree.”
Evers, a Democrat, called the tree a holiday tree on Friday. He announced the tree’s theme will be “Celebrate Science” and asked schoolchildren to submit science-related ornaments to adorn the tree.
Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff didn’t immediately respond to an email asking why the governor has gone back to calling the tree a holiday tree.
Republican Scott Fitzgerald, the state Senate majority leader and a 2020 congressional candidate, tweeted that Evers’ move was “‘PC’ garbage. It’s a Christmas Tree (sic).”
Tweeted Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos: “We all know it’s a Christmas tree no matter what @GovEvers calls it …”