Sunday, January 08, 2006

The Civil Religion Calendar

The annual “Happy Holidays” controversy has made me think of what the civil religion calendar would like if wholly freed from religion. Here is my offering. Flags available.
(Your comments welcome).

New Year’s Fitness Resolution Day

Mysterious Monday Off (formerly, Feel Good About Race Relations Day)

Super Bowl Commercial Sunday

Rodent Shadow Day

Forced Romance Day

Mysterious Monday Off (formerly, Celebration of Famous Presidents You Should Have Studied In School)

Drunken Green Day

Chocolate Bunny Day

TAX DAY (or Day of Atonement)

First Day of Summer (formerly, Honor Dead Soldiers While Forgetting War Day)

Fireworks Day

Last Day of Summer (formerly, Don’t Labor Day)

Mysterious Monday Off (formerly, Catholic Parade Day)

Costume and Candy Day

Mysterious Monday Off (formerly, Honor Living Soldiers While Forgetting War Day)

Family Turkey Day

Happy Shopidays


Mr. Grey Ghost said...

LOL! That's some pretty funny stuff! The way the liberals are taking over in some parts of the world I wouldnt be surprised if some of those new holiday names came to fruition.

Unknown said...

What about "Indigenous Peoples' Day" (formerly known as Columbus Day?

Or was that the "Mysterious Monday" between Labor Day and Halloween?

Gruntled said...

Yeah, I think of Columbus Day as the Great Catholic Holiday, but perhaps your reading is better grounded in the civil religion.

Tom Strong said...

Don't forget "Celebrity Self-Congratulations Day" (the Academy Awards).

Anonymous said...

I've been reading, and keeping track of your seasonal commentary, and your renaming of the time between Late November and January 2 as the "Shopidays," thus warranting a "Happy Shopidays!" greeting. I hate to sound overly critical or nasty, but I think in your analysis of this situation, you betray your gross misunderstanding of why the "War Over Christmas" (another lovely Fox News created, Bill O'Reilly approved distraction from the world's real problems) exists, and the crux of the arguments supporting a seasonal greeting of "Happy Holidays."

Your presentation here is a calendar "wholly free of religion" (although I note that the only truly religious holidays that you parody are Christian ones, which already points out the nearsightedness of the argument). I will not venture into my own judgements about some of the already secular holidays that you parody (MLK Jr. day is necessary, Columbus Day essentially celebrates the beginning of European sponsored ethnic cleansing in the name of mercantilism and profit, NOT the Pope or Catholocism, etc.), but rahter I would like to suggest that this "Civic Religious Calendar" pre-supposes a few things about the "Happy Holidays" movement:

1. That its goal is to strike religion entirely from our public lives. In other words, in wishing someone a "Happy Holidays" we are secularizing the season.

2. That the sentiments of the "Happy Holidays" crowd are crassly commercial.

3. That the "Happy Holidays" movement is an Anti-Christian one, or that the primary focus of this movement is targeted at Christians.

I would like to respond to each of these claims:

1. Wishing someone a "Happy Holidays" doesn't attempt to strip religion from the season. Rather, it intends to add different ones to it. It would be foolish to claim that the only important holiday between Thanksgiving and the New Year is Christmas. With Channukah, Tet, and the traditional Yule and Solstice festivals that pre-date Christmas falling in this time of year, it is painfully obvious that other religions have holidays at this time of year as well, and thus, "Happy Holidays" is an attempt at pluralization rather than secularization. It is a recognition of other valid faiths. That said, there are also numerous valid secular holidays at this time of year, also (New Years Eve/Day, Boxing Day, etc.). To say "Merry Christmas" forgets them. Because religion is not something that is determinable simply on sight (unless of course you force everyone to wear badges which identify their religious faith... not a good idea), it is only sensible to wish someone a "Happy Holidays," out of sheer personal respect.

2. I don't see how the "Happy Holidays" movement can be a commercial ploy of major corporations when so many Christian groups, which have numerous members who do shop, threaten to boycott any establishment that abandons "Merry Christmas"

3. "Happy Holidays" is not Anti-Christian, because even under the supposition that Christianity deserves special recoginition beyond all other faiths, the idea that Christmas is the lone holiday at this time of year is false. There are numerous important Christian holidays in December alone, which include, but not limited to: St Nicholas Day, The Feast of Santa Lucia, The Feast of St. Stephen, Epiphany, and of course the entire season of Advent which precedes Christmas and urges Christians to thoughtful meditation and prayer in anticipation of the arrival of the Christ child. Are these days not worthy of recognition?

So, it's logical for me to conclude that the idea that religion is under secular attack here is simply misguided. Even if you don't percieve these holidays as worth observing, there is someone who does, and our society values the rights of those, even if they are minorities to be recognized. The 'Happy Holidays' campaign does not attempt to obscure Christmas, or deny Christianity. Nor is it a purely secular movement, but rather a pluralistic one. Maybe if this were a more common understanding, this ridiculous "War Over Christmas" could cease, and we could spend the holiday season focusing on the more impending issues that really matter.

Anonymous said...

After 25 adult years in Israel, I returned to the US during the summer of 2004, to south Florida. In the year-and-a-half since my return, I have some observations about this unnecessarily difficult time of year.

1. Jews still don't know what to do. I
would lay money that 99 out of 100 Jews
in the US aren't religious, and don't
know squat about Hannukah. Ditto for
Xmas, other than that they wish they
could find something to be happy and
jolly and "good" about it.

2. Mean people suck. If I were Swarthmore
and Yale, rather than Woodstock and the
US Army, I'd probably be more erudite
about it, but I'm not, so it'll have to
do. Lots of people think that Americans
are superficial and shallow with their
"Have a nice day!" Well, they're not.
Americans work hard at this, and it
pays off -- act "as-if", and it does
come to be.

Americans aren't warm 'n fuzzy 'n gushy because it's cold, or they have to pay more for fuel oil, tire chains, or what have you. It's because of Xmas, period. And the implied social covenant (excuse my being erudite) that goes with it. Madison Ave notwithstanding, Xmas is still about goodness, rather than purchasing; still about spiritual miracles made flesh -- our own, in the end.

"Happy Holidays" is about media types looking for a cheap sound-bite; for the rest of us, it's "Merry Xmas", and I *love* it when my Xian co-workers wish it to me.

Gruntled said...

I thank you, Anon., for a thoughtful response.

I don't think there is a conspiracy to secularize Christmas or public life in general (well, there is, but People for the American Way is more silly than all-powerful). I think our wonderful, diverse, capitalist, pluralist society has fashioned a fascinating civil calendar out of bits and pieces of Christianity, home-grown patriotic holidays, ethnic celebrations, sports, and rodents, and every one is somehow a good reason to buy stuff.

I love this country.

Gruntled said...

Oh, and between Tax Day and the First Day of Summer is FTD Awareness Day (formerly Call Your Mom Day).

Gruntled said...

Jonathan Horen:

Amen, brother.

And as erudite as you wanna be.

During Christmas week I had a conservation with my sister. To convey my disapprobation of something or other, I said, "It sucketh."
She, to indicate her disagreement, quickly answered, "Nay sucketh."

ancho and lefty said...

Mr. Grey Ghost do tell us where these parts of the world are where liberals are taking over. I'd love to go.