“The Holiday Season” is upon us. Kids are getting excited about opening their gifts while adults are stressing out over their travel plans and finances. Retail stores are expecting last minute shoppers by the dozens and gas stations can’t keep enough gas in their tanks. It’s a busy time of year. The thing is, what are we celebrating?
I know what I’m celebrating. I’m a Christian so I’m celebrating the birth of the messiah. Without that important event there would be no real chance of salvation so Christmas is a very important religious holiday. There are many songs to be sang and traditions to be carried out for this holiday. The giving of presents is in celebration of the birth of Jesus. This all makes sense to me. I know what Christians are celebrating.
The Jewish people are celebrating Hanukkah. This holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem following the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greeks in 165 B.C.E. Although it is not technically their most important holiday, because of its proximity to Christmas and the fact that many Jews and Christians live a lot of the same areas of the world, Hanukkah has become a bigger deal over the years. There are 8 days of gift exchange, the lighting of the hanukkiyah, the spinning of the dreidel, and the eating of dried foods that takes place. I understand and appreciate what the Jewish people are celebrating.
Kwanzaa is a celebration that takes place mostly in the US, Canada, and western Africa that honors African heritage in African-American culture, and is observed from December 26 to January 1, culminating in a feast and gift-giving. Kwanzaa has seven core principles (Nguzo Saba): Unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity, and faith. It was created by Maulana Karenga, and was first celebrated in 1966–67. I’m not sure why there is a need for a holiday celebrating a cultural background in a purely secular way. I don’t feel the need to celebrate the fact that I’m French, Blackfoot Indian, English, and Cherokee. Still, at least I know what is being celebrated regardless of not understanding why.
The Islamic religion has a different calendar than the western world and is 12 days shorter than the Gregorian Calendar. The Islamic New Year and Ashura were celebrated in December back in 2009, but this year both fell in November. Still, I can understand celebrating a new year since we all have our own ways of doing this. Ashura is on the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar and marks the climax of the Mourning of Muharram. Some Muslims fast on this day because it is recorded that Musa (Moses) and his people obtained a victory over the Egyptian Pharaoh on the 10th day of Muharram. I can identify that there is a religious significance on these days for the Muslims and I understand why they would want to celebrate.
Buddhists celebrate Bodhi Day on December 8th. On Bodhi day some Buddhists celebrate Gautama’s attainment of enlightenment under the Bodhi tree at Bodhgaya, India. I can understand this celebration considering enlightenment is a major goal in Buddhism and leading people to enlightenment is the other major goal.
The Hindu religion doesn’t have a major festival in December. They have Diwali in November and Pongal in January.
That brings us to all of you “Happy Holiday” folks. We live in an overly politically correct world these days so, in a small way, I understand what that ridiculous phrase is uttered. I will wish anyone of a different religion a happy or merry “(insert religious holiday here)”. I’m extremely tolerant of all religions that seek a positive existence, that want to help out their fellow man, and that believe there is an after-life. Still, I don’t like the growing popularity of “happy holidays” and I refuse to say it.
That brings me to another point. What in the hell are the atheists and agnostics celebrating? Are you celebrating commercialism? You have nothing to celebrate! Why are you hanging lights and putting up trees? Those are Christmas traditions. Why are you buying gifts? There is no holiday during the “holiday season” that isn’t of some type of religious significance. This really bothers me. In my mind it is like you don’t want to miss out on the fellowship and rituals so you just latch onto the traditions of those around you and run with it. I also feel like you are the majority of the reason that the rest of us are reduced to saying “happy holidays”. WHAT HOLIDAY? You have none!
So Merry Christmas to the Christians, Happy Hanukkah to the Jewish people, happy New Year to the Muslims, happy Kwanzaa, I hope the Hindus had a nice Diwali, and a late happy Bodhi Day to the followers of Buddha. For those without religion, I hope you have a nice New Year.