Wild winds forced Sparks City Officials to postpone their annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony by a week, but Friday night the festivities were back on. As workers hang the last ornaments, the city is throwing political correctness out the door, proudly calling it a Hometown Christmas celebration rather than renaming it a "Holiday Tree" lighting. "I'm old fashioned so i think it should be called a Christmas tree," agrees Sparks resident Verna Peeler.
While there are no religious overtones to the tree's decorations, after the City of Reno recently presented their "Holiday Tree" many KOLO 8 viewers expressed disappointment over the omission of Christmas. A spokeswoman says the goal is to recognize diversity within the community. "We want to be respectful of everyone's traditions," says Community Relations Program Manager Sharon Spangler, "and a tree, throughout history, has been a symbol of celebration for all sorts of cultures, both Christian and Pagan.
Historians agree, saying the tradition of bringing evergreen plants inside the home in December began as a pre-Christian celebration of the winter solstice. The Christmas Tree we know today, started in Germany in the 1500's, when people began placing sweets, gifts and eventually candles on the tree. Most people in our community like the tradition of calling it a Christmas Tree, but they say the name isn't as important as what it symbolizes to each individual.