Friday, December 14, 2012

Holiday season at the Wisconsin State Capitol

For those of you not from Wisconsin, you've already seen some nice outside shots of the Capitol when I saw Obama speak there the day before the election.  Now you'll get to see some pictures of the building's interior!

The first Sunday of December I took a brief stroll up to the Capitol and ventured inside to check out the holiday displays I had been reading about in the news and on blogs.  I don't think I had been inside the Capitol since an elementary school field trip!

When you first walk in, a holiday tree is the prominent display in the center of the four building wings.

Holiday tree in Madison
Wisconsin State Capitol

Check out some of these ornaments: 

I thought this reindeer was clever, using the milk carton and all
Milk carton reindeer
Wisconsin State Capitol holiday tree

This Tombstone one frightened me; why so many brands and advertisements always??  What does Tombstone pizza have to do with the holidays? (Am I missing something here?)
Tombstone pizza ornament
Wisconsin State Capitol holiday tree

I walked up a level in search of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) displays that they put up every year, since the churches get to put up displays in the state Capitol.  On the way, I passed these neat stairways and took a picture:


And then I finally found the FFRF displays!  They weren't as prominent as the blogs and news had made it sound; just a small display and sign up on the balcony - so not even on the main level where the tree is.  Here's the first one, the "natural nativity," which features many prominent free-thinkers and their quotes in order to celebrate human family, reason, and the solstice. FFRF wanted to educate people and share that Christmas was originally a pagan holiday celebrating the winter solstice.  

FFRF Natural Nativity: Celebrate the solstice, the reason for the season
Madison, WI: Wisconsin State Capitol

If this is the first you're hearing of Christmas's pagan roots, I suggest you take a glance at Christmas's Pagan Origins, a short read about the history of the holiday that I found via a quick google search.

FFRF has made a pdf to explain their natural nativity scene, and the history of the holiday season - before Christians adopted the festival and customs as their own.

Here's their second display, a sign with a poem by Ellen Wheeler Wilcox:

FFRF holiday poem by Ellen Wheeler Wilcox
Wisconsin State Capitol
It reads:
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.

-Ellen Wheeler Wilcox 
I believe in kindness!  Here are some pictures of the views inside the Capitol from that balcony level:
Holiday tree in Wisconsin State Capitol, December 2012
Wisconsin State Capitol
Holiday tree
December, 2012

Wisconsin State Capitol ceiling
December 2012

Wisconsin State Capitol December 2012
Wisconsin State Capitol
December 2012

Wisconsin State Capitol December 2012
Wisconsin State Capitol
December 2012

I had a pang of reverse culture shock and cultural anger when I saw this sign up outside of a door on the second floor:
No firearms or weapons beyond this point

Are you telling me people can walk through the Capitol (and city) with firearms and weapons -- just not past this door??

No firearms or weapons beyond this point

I don't know if you recall, but this was the really nice Sunday at the beginning of the month.  I snapped a few sunny pictures outside after my Capitol visit:

Outside the Wisconsin State Capitol
December 2012

Wisconsin State Capitol December 2012 wreaths
Wisconsin State Capitol, wreaths
December 2012


View of State Street from Wisconsin State Capitol
View of State Street from Wisconsin State Capitol
December 2012

Wisconsin State Capitol
Wisconsin State Capitol
December 2012
If you're from the state, when's the last time you were inside the Wisconsin State Capitol?  What do you think of FFRF's holiday displays?
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