Spaceship santa

By HangingCurve (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Simon Malls protesters destroyed Santa’s new North Pole glacier theme, which some said looked like a spaceship, in favor of a traditional Christmas tree.

A huge backlash followed Simon Malls’ decision to replace their traditional Christmas tree display with a faux glacier. Charlotte, North Carolina locals did not respond kindly to the change at the SouthPark Mall. An online petition was started to bring back the tree and made a strong impact with 25,012 signatures. A lot of people took to Twitter to express disapproval over the chain’s decision.

Simon Malls’ President issued a public apology and admitted that it was a mistake on their part. He insisted that the decision was not a secular bid. Their intention was to try something modern to keep Christmas traditions fresh and exciting. They said that it was meant to evoke the North Pole where Santa starts his journey every Christmas. The interactive glacier that is said to have cost thousands of dollars to make was going to include a light and sound show.

The origin of the Christmas tree can be traced back to Germany during the Renaissance. Although tree worship was considered to be a staple of the pagan religions, the tradition was sustained in Christian rites. It was popularized through the story of Saint Boniface who chopped an oak tree that was worshipped by the pagan Germans and replaced it with an Evergreen tree that symbolized the Holy Trinity because of its triangular shape. It was then coopted by the European and British nobility in the early 19th century while it spread to Canada in 1781 thanks to the Brunswick Soldiers who were stationed in Quebec.

In the early 1960s, aluminum Christmas trees became popular and eventually derided as symbols of commercialization. That should have been a pointer, if anything before Simon Malls decided to undertake this radical overhaul of tradition. The fact is simple – Christmas trees have been a part of holiday season for a long time and trying anything different is going to take people out of the tradition and comfort, which is precisely what they celebrate during the festival.

Simon Malls posted a picture of the glaciers being dismantled on social media. Even the Roosevelt Fields Mall reverted to its traditional display after a lot of social media outcry. This incident comes at the heels of Starbucks coming under fire on social media for offering red disposable cups. This is a crucial time for the malls from a business perspective and they cannot afford to lose their customers. Maybe taking a survey or two before opting to change the display would work better next time.

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