A New Hampshire town will be downgrading their annual Christmas festivities, as the city moves to “remove religious overtones” from holiday celebrations.
The event, which will be renamed from the “Annual Tree Lighting” to “Frost Fest” will do away with their lighting ceremony, and St. Nicholas will no longer be driving into town on a local firetruck, as he once did in previous years.
Christmas wreaths on city lamp posts will also not be present this year, as they once were.
City councillor Sally Tobias says the changes were made after complaints by people who “had always had a problem with the Christmas tree.”
“There were a couple of people that did express some concerns about how they felt being included,” Tobias said.
“To stop cultures and faiths from practicing publicly would be very un-American. I think that’s the beauty of our country,” said Rabbi Berel Slavaticki of the University of New Hampshire and Seacoast Chabad Jewish Center to CBS Boston, who noted that his request to display a Menorah was declined during last year’s holiday festivities.
“To stop cultures and faiths from practicing publicly would be very un-American. I think that’s the beauty of our country … The Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that the Menorah and the Christmas tree both represent the holiday winter season,” continued Slavaticki.
Pew surveys suggests citizens of New Hampshire and Vermont are “less likely than other Americans to attend weekly services,” with only 54 percent responding that they are “absolutely certain there is a God.” This figure, compared to 71% in the rest of the nation, ranks among the bottom in individual states.
New Hampshire and Vermont are also at the lowest levels among states in religious commitment, according to a poll by Gallup.
In 2012, only 23 percent of New Hampshire residents considered themselves “very religious”, while 52 percent considered themselves “non-religious.”