Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Social Construction of Holidays

As we are in the end of the holiday season, I've been thinking about holidays a lot and wondering about their purpose. This year, they haven't felt that special: The days seem like any other day of the year, emphasizing the social construction of them.

I think holidays can be useful, but they are often over-emphasized as separate, wonderful, holy things. For me, one of the problems with holidays is people do things out of obligation than out of heart-felt desire.

And these things (thanksgiving, gratitude, giving, expressing love for each other, etc.) are things we should be doing every year. But if we miss the day, then we must not love our spouses, or appreciate our lives, or love Christ. One day set aside to emphasize the birth of Christ, for thanksgiving, for showing our love to our partners, etc. is not bad, but I think we also put too much emphasis on it.

I wonder what it would be like if we went a year without celebrating any holidays. Might we appreciate them more and approach them more appropriately? Maybe the Jehovah's Witness tradition of not celebrating holidays has some honest legitimacy...

What do you think?


  1. I would not wish to skip any positive occasions, particularly if it was to make the occasions more meaningful by their being "passed on" to try to re-establish meaning.

    I feel too many good traditions have been lost forever as the world has so much to fill the gap right away! Take the loss of family weekends spent together. It is a thing sadly missed now and in half a generation, young people often have a curious expression when they hear how we "all were able to" (whatever) together.

    Truth that commercialization has blotted a lot of meaning as have over stimulation through TVs, iPods, the CPU I am using as I write this. But the answer for me in reconnecting is uncovering what we have replaced those times with! And then reassessing our use of our time to ensure the most important things get done first, not after the tempting gadgets or whatever have been used or done.

    Lastly, I have found the Jehovah Witness approach devisive for children who feel left out of many positive experiences and seem often not to feel good about what they are doing or not doing. Seems a negative time for their youth which saddens me.

    I did follow a Christmas challenge for a week this year that kept HIM in my thoughts as I wanted. It was a wonderful experience for me! I chose to not eat cooked food for the week prior to Christmas and then only sparingly; and it kept me mindful of the Christmas Blessing and was something I will do again.

    All the best to all for The New Year...with LOVE J-M

  2. I definately agree with Jan that commercialism has taken away a lot of the reason why holidays were to first be celebrated. I also think that there is a lot of capitalism pressure! The constant need to purchase gifts, send christmas cards, make certain foods, can be overwhelming. Why don't we have more "family" get togethers and celebrations all year? Why must we wait to certain holidays to do this?

    I hope I made sense!

  3. Thanks for both comments! The holidays at their heart do seem to have good meaning. I think my problem is when people tend to have expectations (particularly about receiving things at Christmas or spending time with family). When we expect these things, it takes the beauty out of them in many ways...



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