Most religious holidays (of all religions) have their origins in ancient practices that were based on nature: the cycle of seasons, agriculture and mating seasons. So just about every religion has some holiday that corresponds to the winter solstice. A celebration of the shortest day of the year because that means things will start to get better. The spirits must be looking favorably upon on. Each religion added on its own particular story to make it personal and to create a differentiation. The baby Jesus narrative. The Maccabian victory over the Greeks. Etc.
Now in our era of globalization, a secularization trend has taken over. No matter what practices used to set each religion’s version of the holiday apart, we now all have presents, and candle lighting, and many other similarities. Twelve days of Christmas versus eight days of Hanukkah. Hanukkah bushes to satisfy Jewish Christmas tree envy. I heard today that many Muslims in Baghdad buy Christmas trees and hang Santas on their front doors. I am not an expert at religious anthropology, but my minor in religious philosophy many decades ago at least prepared me to notice these trends and recognize them honestly for what they are.
An even more recent trend towards mixed marriages makes it really hard to maintain any differences at all. What do you tell the kids when you have a Jewish mom, atheist dad, Christian step-mom, Wiccan step-dad, living in a Muslim community with a Buddhist teacher and Hindu best friend?
This is really hard on companies and school systems trying to set vacation schedules and stores deciding when to have their holiday sales. We have “holiday trees” and other pathetic sounding, artificial, politically correct contrivances to keep everyone happy.
Luckily there is a solution. New Years Eve. It wouldn’t be that hard to extend our New Year’s Eve holiday into a ten day break beginning on December 21. It starts with a night of family dinners, gift exchanges, and goodwill towards all. It culminates with a New Year’s Eve celebration of bacchanalian partying. It concludes with a day of watching college football. On the days in between, each person or family can insert any other practices that match their personal beliefs or preferences. But it could be the same dates and basic milestones for everyone so the stores would know when to have their holiday sales and vacations could be aligned.
What do you think?