For centuries, Durham, New Hampshire—established in 1635—was renowned for its independent citizens who established a long-standing tradition known as the town tree lighting ceremony. However, an increasing number of residents have expressed offense to this seasonal event which has ultimately led to its axing from the holiday festivities. Sadly, those living within Durham’s colonial walls today are no longer standing firm with their founding fathers’ hardy spirit and resilience.

Since the tree lighting ceremony was saturated with religious undertones, certain nonreligious citizens wanted an alteration. Durham is thus dedicating this year to reforming the tradition in order to align it more closely with modern American values.

Although many members of the community have asked for it to stay, The Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony has been replaced with Frost Fest. Santa Claus will still be featured at this event, but unfortunately not in the way he was previously celebrated – riding a firetruck and receiving applause from everyone present. Despite these changes, Frost Fest is sure to bring holiday cheer!

Unfortunately, this year, the charming Main Street will be without the classic wreaths that usually decorate it during Christmas festivities.

Last winter, Durham faced intense criticism and discontent over the religious character of their festivities. Councilor Sally Tobias discussed this problem in detail as certain citizens had reported it to discerning authorities, obligating the town of New Hampshire to take action.

“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,” Tobias stated.

Tobias’ complaint was widely heard, prompting the City of Durham to hold a public meeting where they consulted with all members of the community and then formed a working committee tasked with making sure that their Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony could be enjoyed by people from diverse backgrounds.

“There were a couple of people that did express some concerns about how they felt being included,” Tobias stated.

As some are elated that the traditional tree lighting ceremony has been replaced, Rabbi Berel Slavaticki of the University of New Hampshire and Seacoast Chabad Jewish Center think Durham is taking this holiday celebration in an unfortunate direction.

“To stop cultures and faiths from practicing publicly would be very un-American. I think that’s the beauty of our country,” Slavaticki stated.

Rather than canceling holiday events that are rooted in religious backgrounds, Slavaticki proposed allowing different religions to celebrate their special days in distinctive manners. He requested the town set up a Menorah during Hanukkah last year but was unfortunately turned down without consideration.

“The Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that the Menorah and the Christmas tree both represent the holiday winter season,” Slavaticki stated. It is likely that he has a legal cause of action against Durham, and could bring the town to court.

Tobias was not pleased that the Durham resident had compelled her to take action.

“I will state that trees and Santas and wreaths are not Christian,” Tobias stated, “And we would like to hear back from the community. We’d like to hear what they think about it, how they would like to see it evolve a little differently, and how we can make it better.”