It seems an annual holiday tradition from Durham, New Hampshire is most likely going to be called off this year, after the state announced that they are currently working on a few changes for this year’s Christmas celebration, in an effort to remove any religious overtones during the holidays.
Previously called the Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony, the newly named Frost Fest will now be missing the usual annual activity of lighting the Christmas tree, as well as the yearly arrival of Santa Claus in a town fire truck - an activity the Durham children will miss this year.
Even the traditionally placed Christmas wreaths on the Main Street’s lamp posts won’t be seen this year either.
According to the Durham Town Councilor Sally Tobias, the name change of the event had to take place this year after a controversy occurred during last year’s holiday season.
She said that “there was another private citizen that came forward and said that he had always had a problem with the Christmas tree, as he called it.”
After they held their public meeting prior to the holidays, the town decided to form a working committee for this year’s overall changes to the said event.
“There were a couple of people that did express some concerns about how they felt being included,” Tobias said.
But according to the Rabbi Berel Slavaticki of the University of New Hampshire and the Seacoast Chabad Jewish Center, these new changes are missing the true point of Christmas.
“To stop cultures and faiths from practicing publicly would be very un-American. I think that’s the beauty of our country,” Slavaticki said.
He also requested the town to display a Menorah during the eight days of Hanukkah last year but his request was promptly rejected.
“The Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that the Menorah and the Christmas tree both represent the holiday winter season,” Slavaticki said.
Tobias says the town is still open for feedback and admits that she too, isn’t a fan of the changes.