MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin Gov. 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.
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.
In 2007 the Republican-controlled state Assembly passed a resolution to call the tree a Christmas tree, but it died in the Democratic-controlled Senate. Former Republican Gov. Scott Walker, the son of a Baptist minister, declared the tree a Christmas tree when he took office in 2011.
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.