NJ 'Holiday' Tree Lighting Sparks Controversy, Plus Other Christmas Brouhahas

PHOTO: A Christmas tree decorates an intersection on Worth Avenue on Dec. 15, 2008 in Palm Beach, Fla. PlayJoe Raedle/Getty Images
WATCH The Controversy Between the 'Christmas' Season Vs. the 'Holiday' Season Heats Up

A New Jersey tree lighting is adding to the list of Christmas controversies this holiday season.

The Borough of Roselle Park held a council meeting on Thursday where it was decided that the annual tree lighting will now be called a “Christmas” tree lighting instead of a “holiday” tree lighting, Mayor Carl Hokanson told ABC News today.

“I want to call it a Christmas tree lighting, which it is,” Hokanson said. “It is a Christmas tree. It’s not a bush, it’s not a pear tree, it’s a Christmas tree.”

Although the majority voted to change the name, Councilwoman Charlene Storey did not agree with the decision and walked out of the meeting, Storey told ABC News today.

“I love Christmas trees, I have one myself,” Storey said. “But I’m a strong supporter of the separation of church and state. I feel that as a non-Christian, I am separated from this.”

PHOTO: A Roselle Park, NJ councilwoman resigned, and later rescinded her resignation, after the council voted to change the holiday tree lighting to the Christmas tree lighting. ABC
A Roselle Park, NJ councilwoman resigned, and later rescinded her resignation, after the council voted to change the "holiday" tree lighting to the "Christmas" tree lighting.

Storey dropped off her resignation letter the next morning, but after meeting with the mayor, she rescinded her resignation and the two agreed that she will head a committee on diversity, Storey said, but she will not be attending the tree lighting this Friday.

This is one of the many holiday controversies popping up all over the country, another one being the recent backlash Starbucks received for its "holiday" cup. Some customers took to social media to express their disappointment with the simple red design lacking holiday symbols, while others said they didn't have a problem with it.

A Starbucks spokesman told ABC News in November that the cups have told a story since their debut in 1997, and this year’s cup is designed to mimic a “blank canvas.”

"This year’s design is another way we are inviting our customers to create their own stories on our cups,” a Starbucks spokesman said.

Another holiday controversy took place at the University of Tennessee Knoxville after the university posted a list of suggestions for hosting a workplace holiday celebration to its website.

“Holiday parties and celebrations should celebrate and build upon workplace relationships and team morale with no emphasis on religion or culture,” the list on the university’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion website says. “Ensure your holiday party is not a Christmas party in disguise.”

The school received criticism from some of its students, including Clayton Dorman, who tweeted at the university.

“Hey @UTKnoxville I’m throwing at [sic] CHRISTmas party tomorrow and you are invited!” Dorman tweeted, adding the hashtag #ClaytonSavesChristmas.

In response to the backlash, the school issued a statement clarifying their suggestions, saying they do not have an official policy on the matter.

“First let me say that we honor Christmas as one of the celebrations of the season. We are in no way trying to dismiss this very important Christian holiday,” Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek said in the statement.

He added that the university does promote ways to be inclusive of all religions and cultures and that he is disappointed their suggestions have been “totally misconstrued.”