I heard discouraging news on the radio this morning that the “Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree” had been felled and was on its way to Manhattan from Mount Olive, New Jersey.  I never understood why we needed to cut down a real tree just to watch it die adorned with 45,000 lights in the Rockefeller Center public square.  The additional bad news that, this season, the tree had actually “survived” the wrath of mother nature and Hurricane Sandy — only to be cut down days later by men with chainsaws — made me realize the whole thing is a false idol tradition that needs to end in the faux name of “celebrating” the birth of Baby Jesus with a dead tree.

The Christmas tree that will dominate New York’s Rockefeller Center survived the winds of Superstorm Sandy that left a path of destruction in a New Jersey town and even its donor without electricity for weeks. Joe Balku, 76, learned that the 80-foot Norway spruce had been chosen for the honor four weeks ago. Sandy hit two weeks later.

Balku watched the tree, which weighs 10 tons and is 50 feet in diameter, as it swayed in the backyard. “I kept going outside during the night. I lost two trees, an oak and an evergreen, but the big tree was tied up for its protection,” Balku said.

His electricity went out, but on the morning after the storm, the tree was still standing and his home did not sustain any damage.

Isn’t that just about the saddest thing you’ve ever read?

Here — we once had a beautiful and wondrous tree — that we couldn’t wait to cut down and kill and prop up in Rockefeller Center just to prove how neat we are to ourselves. It’s actually all a disgusting tradition that is incredibly selfish and silly.

Why can’t the Rockefeller Center tree be fake?  Why not select and artist every year to create a tree from scratch?  Celebrate the Arts!  Don’t kill an 80-foot tree to make yourself feel better about the holidays!


  1. It is really frustrating to see this every year. It would really be great to have, as you describe, a fake tree. Heck, when I see the sales on the street of real dead trees, it makes me sad as well. Think of all of that beautiful oxygen that isn’t being put out there!

    1. Yes, I think we need to grow up now as a society and realize that cutting down trees just to bring them inside for two weeks is wasteful and foolish. Leave the trees alone. The soil needs them. We can easily find replacement totems for our religious celebrations.

    1. Hi Rob!

      Great to hear from you!

      You’re absolutely right.

      This was the perfect year to “break tradition” and place a non-real tree in the middle of Rockefeller Center — traditionalists could not argue the point. Hurricane Sandy gave them a perfect out — “We have learned to value nature, and to not use it for our own selfish needs, and now on we’re going with a tree made of aluminum and palladium.”

      I want to know who at Rockefeller Center gave the final “go ahead” to chop down the tree. “Um, yeah? The tree made it through Sandy! Excellent! Now we can kill it! Start chopping, boys!”

    1. Many others have shared your pining, Lillian! There have been so many calls throughout the years for the Rockefeller Center tree to not be real — and to not waste the life of an elder tree just for commerce in the plaza — yet the monied powers want the richness of a dying, lighted, tree in the public square for no real reason at all.

  2. As a visitor to NYC this winter I was so sad to see this beautiful huge tree there, it is really a horrible tradition to cut down hundreds of years old trees for decoration. These trees do not come from a tree farm and the city has no business revelling in this kind of waste!~
    I think a fake tree decorated by an artist is an amazing idea!

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Terry. Sometimes we need to stop and question these “traditions” we have and ask if there’s now something better than just continuing doing what has been done.

  3. This morning as I got ready for work, I had the national NBC news station, and they replayed the ‘lighting of the tree’. My heart sank, thinking about the tree’s history, what it withstood, and that it would never be seen again past New Years Day. What a travesty.

    1. I saw that replay, too — and what is entirely sad is that year-to-year the trees look exactly the same after they decorate them with three miles of lights. What difference would it make to use a fake tree and light it up? Few people would even notice the tree was fake instead of dead. The uniqueness of the trees are only while they’re alive — once they are cannibalized, and homogenized, by Rockefeller Center — they’re all the same… and still dead.

  4. Isaiah 44
    (I hope I can put biblical understanding on this post – if I can’t – please let me know)

    starting at verse 14 He goes to chop down cedars; he takes an evergreen and an oak; he especially tends one tree in the forest, plants a pine for the rain to nourish. 15 In time, when it’s ready for use as fuel, he takes some of it to keep himself warm and burns some more to bake bread. Then he makes a god and worships it, carves it into an idol and falls down before it. 16 So half of it he burns in the fire; with that half he roasts meat and eats his fill; he warms himself; says, “It feels so good, getting warm while watching the flames!” 17 With the rest of the log he fashions a god, a carved image, then falls down before it; he worships it and prays to it. “Save me,” he says, “for you are my god!” 18 Such people know nothing, understand nothing. Their eyes are sealed shut, so that they can’t see; their hearts too, so they can’t understand. 19 Not one thinks to himself or has the knowledge or the discernment to say, “I burned half of it in the fire, baked bread on its coals, roasted meat and ate it. Should I now make the rest an abomination? Should I prostrate myself to a tree trunk?” 20 He is relying on ashes! A deceived heart has led him astray; so that now he won’t save himself, just won’t say, “This thing in my hand is a fraud!”

    21 “Keep these matters in mind, Ya’akov (Jacob), for you, Isra’el, are my servant. I formed you, you are my own servant; Isra’el, don’t forget me. 22 Like a thick cloud, I wipe away your offenses; like a cloud, your sins. Come back to me, for I have redeemed you.”

    This really underlines why the Rockefeller Tragedy really irks me. It’s not me, but the God we worship and say we serve……

  5. I am always sadden by the annual Cutting of the Christmas Tree for Rockefeller center..
    It just seems to me that if we would of planted a tree 80 something years ago and celebrated annually, well that tree would be as big if not bigger by now. On the other hand, the roots would probably take over and it would be cut down eventually anyway :*(
    I think A fiber optic tree would be great!! And outlaw all sales of free killed trees!
    When I see trees laying in the street with broken decorations and garland strangling the branches after Christmas, the only solace I can find is thinking, Gee, if it were to be used to house some of the other creatures that need warmth for a few weeks in the bitter winters, but no Mulch it is…

    1. Beautifully said, Jackie! You are right on all points and I love your idea of planting a tree and letting it grow throughout the years to become “The Rockefeller Center” tree. That’s just the way it should work!

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