Being recently married, my husband and I have been sharing our separate holiday traditions with each other and are working to create new traditions together. There has been much discussion as to how we should celebrate holidays, and if we should celebrate some holidays altogether (namely Halloween). My husband argues that some holidays and /or their traditions are bogus, existing only due to rampant commercialism. But I argue that holidays, at least those we are discussing, have basis and meaning. Whether it be the rhythm of the natural seasons, a historical event, or the spectrum of human experience, holidays have very real roots that keep them relevant. Now traditions have no doubt evolved over time, and meanings have altered as cultures collided; but that does not make holidays less worth celebrating. Instead, they have become more rich with layers of meaning providing a plethora of experience to followers.
However, the commercialism argument is more concerning. Even in my lifetime it seems there is a push to spend more and more on holiday related items. There are certainly more choices in that arena than ever before. I do not think material items should be discounted in the act of holiday celebration, but they are not the essential component. They create an atmosphere conducive to the occasion, they help create a gateway to experiencing the essential spirit of the holiday. Like ritual items, holiday items help bring the central concept of the holiday alive. Strictly speaking the material items are not necessary, but they are helpful in igniting the reason for the season in the hearts of believers. I think this notion is at the root of our growing consumption of holiday items. In our secular world, less and less time is spent on spiritual matters. As a result, we have become spiritually ‘lazy’ and therefore seek the extra help of holiday items to find that essential spirit. We work to give ourselves such a big boost with these material things, that they now standout more than the core.
Let our beloved holidays shine in their own right. Scale back on the fluff and work to get those spiritual muscles flexing again. Give it a try this holiday season, and share your experiences in the comment section!