Holy Days

hol·i·day
n.

     1.A day on which custom or the law dictates a halting of general business activity to commemorate or celebrate a particular event.
     2.A religious feast day; a holy day.
Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition


     I had an interesting conversation with a friend the other day. It started when I remarked how it is ironic that in the Charlie Brown Christmas Charlie Brown spends the show searching for the true meaning of Christmas when he is one of the only ones who knows what it is (the other obviously being Linus). Her reply was along the lines that she did not consider Christmas to have any "true meaning." She then continued to ask if Hallowe'en and Easter had a "true meaning," and then to say that they are holidays co-opted by Christianity from previous beliefs. I was unable to continue this conversation to much depth due to everyday tasks, such as eating, that had to be done, and when we spoke next for the most part the thread of this conversation seemed lost. But it phrases from it keep going through my mind and I have been occupied with thought on the subject.
     One of her main gripes revolved around the idea that no day should be any more important than any other. "I think we should be thankful everyday." Not long ago it was the anniversary of the shooting deaths of several women in Toronto, a day which is often marked by rallies against violence towards women. I do not think that this indicates we should only be non-violent with women once a year. And I do not think it means we should only recognize violence against women once a year. I do not think that Thanksgiving (a North American holiday, for those in other parts of the world) means we should only be thankful once a year. Nor do I think Remembrance Day or Veteran's Day suggest we only consider the cruelty of war once a year. But these days all mark milestones -- Some of victory, some of tragedy - and these milestones, I believe, are important to remember, to remind ourselves of what we can achieve both in glory and gore. They are the exclamations of struggle. Innocents shot down, the harvest brought in, the dawning peace.
     I know it is unlikely Jesus of Nazareth was born on December twenty-fifth. I know that the fact winter solstice is so important to this date is significant. I do not believe that subtracts from the meaning behind it. I suggested maybe it is not the days that have the meanings, but the ceremonies. She suggested each day should have its ceremonies. And maybe each day should, but should they all be the same? It is not a new idea to try to keep the spirit of Christmas in your heart all year round, and it is a noble idea. It is in fact the whole idea. But this day is set aside to remember the man who spoke these ideals, to honour his birth, even if it is not the exact date of his birth. It is to focus on the beginning of his life, the start of a wondrous journey.

     I am not certain these days what I believe. I think there was a man who spoke of peace. I think he was killed. I think setting aside one day to ponder this, to honour it through actions, is the start of something good. Believe in whatever power you want: God, Goddess, science, or alien. We all have our ceremonies and to those who believe in their origin, these ceremonies have meaning. There has been an attempt to co-opt Christmas, and with the number of non-Christians I have known to celebrate it, it seems that has met with some success. But whether you believe or not, if you are going to have a celebration this year, or for any holiday you do celebrate, perhaps you should pause for a moment and carefully contemplate what this holiday is about. What, so to speak, is the moral of the story?

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