Why do some Christians object to the term "holiday tree"?
Because it hides the ancient link between the tree and Christianity, found in an original Christmas gospel:
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon shepherds abiding in the field, and the angel said unto them: "I bring you tidings of great joy. On this Christmas go forth and smite a mighty tree, a Norway spruce with pleasing boughs, and place it in your home, and adorn it with candles and red balls and strands of silver."
And the shepherds were sore afraid and said unto the angel: "What is this spruce you speak of? What is Norway? Wouldst thou allow a small palm tree?"
And the angel said: "Whatever. Only place on its highest point a star of gold, or, better yet, an angel."
Please note, the angel did not call it a holiday tree.
Is that "original Christmas gospel" in the New Testament?
No, but never mind where it comes from. That's the kind of cynicism that's ruining Christmas. As a matter of historical fact, people in the ancient Middle East did put greenery inside their homes in December.
To celebrate the birth of Jesus?
The Egyptians put date palm leaves into their homes to celebrate the return of the sun at the solstice. Romans honored the god of farming with evergreens and gifts during the Saturnalia, their weeklong solstice festival.
Did the Romans say "Happy Holidays" to one another?
No, the traditional greeting was, "Io, Saturnalia" (the first word was pronounced "yo"), which meant roughly, "Ho, praise to Saturn." Scholars suggest that the date of Christmas was picked in the fourth century to coincide with the Roman holiday.
Did Roman pagans complain that Christians were taking Saturn out of Saturnalia?
Perhaps, but in those days there were no conservative all-news channels. The pagans in northern Europe must have complained about their traditional Yule solstice festival. Christians not only co-opted customs like burning a Yule log, but also turned Yule into a synonym for Christmas.
They took the Yule out of Yule?
And put it into Christmas. For all we know, some Norse lumber merchants tried appeasing both pagans and Christians by marketing "holiday logs," but the term didn't stick.
NY Times, Op Ed, 12/10/05