Religion

What Are Holidays?

Image result for happy holidays

Are you a Christian that celebrates the Christmas that Christians created? Are you a Pagan celebrating the original Christmas of Yule? Are you Jewish and celebrating Hanukkah? Maybe you’re in Japan and celebrating Omisoka. Or, you’re an atheist that doesn’t see December as a religious month, but rather just a month for gift giving and eating tons of unhealthy food with your family and/or friends. Maybe you just avoid the holidays altogether and pretend December is just another day in the life. Maybe you’re agnostic and in confusion. Maybe a bit of some or everything

Growing up Christian, I only knew that Christian holiday of Christmas, the birth of Christ. As a new Pagan, I have been recently preparing for Yule. I know barely anything of Hanukkah, yet there is a decent number of Jewish people on my campus and in the city, much more than my little hometown where everyone was either Christian or Atheist. I had no idea that Kwanzaa was actually an African holiday. I’m not well educated in every religious holiday in December, but it seems obvious there is one theme: December is the true gathering and party month. Every religion I’ve studied so far has some part that requires family to be together and be happy and sociable for some time, and usually in a party type way, with food and music and gift exchange, at the same time as this religious occasion.

Are “The Holidays” loosing their meaning? A holiday is a day with a reason of celebrating. Most of the major December holidays were created as a religious celebration. In the Christian world, it’s pretty obvious that Christmas is very popular in Christianity and a few other faiths, but the religious ties seem to be falling. You can go to church and talk about the birth of Christ all you want, but you will barely see that in public. You will see Holiday sales and discounts and specials in every place that sells anything. Gift giving and house decorating competitions are the most trending internet videos. Every radio station plays the best Christmas songs, but if you do some searching, you’ll realise some radio stations have stopped playing songs with the name of Jesus or refer to the Christian ties at all. There’s even Spotify Christmas playlist made specifically for non-Christians, which is just every Christmas song not about Christ. All this talk about “putting the Christ back in Christmas,” and I have not noticed much change. If anyone does still make Jesus Christ actually important on the day of, they don’t tell anyone. Maybe it is better to keep the religious ties of the holidays in your house and out of public eye.

Becoming more open to faiths, I realise that many of the big ones have a major holiday in December, yet in the naked eye, it doesn’t seem to be a very religious month anymore. There are many people that celebrate their proper religion, they just have to be silenced by the money spenders and aesthetic lovers. Christmas has always had Christ, every other holiday has a large percentage of people still celebrating the reason for their holiday. What irritates me is the criticism saying that Christmas is just Xmas because Christ is in no ones lives anymore. I’ve had this discussion with so many people in these last few weeks, saying we should stop “trying to make the holidays religious again.” They always have been and people will celebrate. Everyone has a personality they have out in public and a different one they have at home, and that goes with religious practices. Just because you can’t see a symbol around a fellow human’s neck, doesn’t mean they will be in proper practice the moment no one looks at them.

We should still say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas to people whose faith is unknown or not important to ourselves, Christianity is not the only religion to follow, just as religion is not the only way to live a fulfilling life. The talks will keep talking, people will keep being judged, the holidays will still be either times for party or times for severe depression, or no difference in a daily life at all. Enjoy the family times and free food if you are able to. Enjoy sales and specials and stores membership bonuses if you can. Enjoy a few days off from work if you can. Enjoy your religious observation if you can. Whatever you want your holidays to look like, make it work like that in whatever power you have over it. Try not to take offense if anyone gives you a negative opinion or tries to put you down. Society says holidays should be happy times, so why is everyone criticizing the next person over how it’s spent?

With this positivity rant in mind, do also keep in mind, the holidays are not happy times for everyone. There will be depression, loneliness, and dangerous thoughts for some people. You don’t need to know the cause of anyone’s pain, some people don’t know the cause of their own. If you are one of these people, I advise you to find a place to be in your hardest times this season, whether with a professional counselor or friends or family, be safe and be wise. You’re not alone and you shouldn’t be pained by yourself.

Survive the Holidays- Emmi R

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