It’s a phrase designed to bestow a cheerful greeting on someone during the Hannukah, Christmas and Kwanzaa seasons. But this year, in Mount Sinai, an online petition is meeting the term “holiday” with scrutiny.
In 1996, the Mount Sinai Civic Association began an annual tree lighting to commemorate the Hanukkah and Christmas seasons. It was dubbed the “Holiday Tree Lighting” so that all community members would feel welcome at the event, according to Lori Baldassare, 52, vice president of the Mount Sinai Heritage Trust.
The group took over the ceremony in 2007 and never changed the name. On Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Heritage Community Center, it will hear suggestions to change the tree lighting’s name to include “Christmas” starting next year following the complaints of an area resident.
Candace Gonzalez Donin said she was first bothered by the celebration’s name when she noticed it three years ago, but as a history teacher and a mother of two didn’t have time to do anything about it. Donin left teaching this year to spend more time with her children and started the petition to rename the lighting after she said she drummed up support for the change a Mount Sinai community Facebook page.
The 47-year-old Mount Sinai resident was born and raised Catholic but has a strong appreciation for religious diversity. Her husband, Marc, is Jewish. The couple are raising their children Catholic, but in their home they celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas.
“I feel like it’s just trying to homogenize each religion,” she said of the lighting’s name. “If it’s a holiday tree, why don’t we just do this in July when it’s warm and decorate it red and white and blue?”