In November, Governor Scott Walker insisted the tree is a Christmas tree and Rep. Jim Steineke, R-Kauakana drafted a resolution to reverse a 26-year-old tradition, which calls it a “holiday tree”. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) challenges that idea with their own brand of Secular holiday “truths”.
"Walker's got it wrong. It's not a 'Christmas' tree, it's a Winter Solstice tree," asserted Gaylor.
FFRF stated that Christmas is rooted in a pagan tradition called Winter Solstice, which celebrates the shortest day of the year, which signals the return of the sun and longer days. Winter Solstice takes place long about December 22 and pagans celebrated this tradition with a festival of lights, evergreens, feasts, and gift giving for a millennium.
"We nonbelievers don't mind sharing the season with Christians," Gaylor added, "but we think there should be some acknowledgment that the Christians really 'stole' the trimmings of Christmas, and the sun-god myths, from pagans."
Dan Barker, Foundation co-president, said Christians tend to think "they own the month of December. We don't agree. No month is free from pagan reverie!"
The Solstice message in the Capital, composed by Anne Nicol Gaynor, Foundation co-president emerita, reads:
The Solstice message in the Capital, composed by Anne Nicol Gaynor, Foundation co-president emerita, reads on the front side:
"At this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail.
There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell.
There is only our natural world.
Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."
On the back of the sign is a poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox says:
The World's Need
So many Gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
When just the art of being kind
Is all this sad world needs.
The sign is on the first floor rotunda in the Wisconsin capital for the sixteenth year.