Forgetting December: The devolution of the world’s holidays

Conor K.

Staff Writer

Since the dawn of man, celebrations have been ongoing in honoring the world’s greatest culture’s greatest triumphs and the heroes that brought them fame. Many of these ancient celebrations are still practiced today, now taking the shape of massive festivals more akin to modern day society. However, some of the original sentiments of these holidays have unfortunately been lost due to passage of time.  It is a well-known fact that the world’s most celebrated holidays (Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan) are based in heavy religious context.  Now in modern times, instead of grand festivals honoring the respective religious figures and their sacrifices, many people involved with celebration have adopted these holidays as an excuse for a night of guilt-free partying. Just how did the world arrive to this inebriated state toward the celebrations of entire cultures?  It happens right under the world’s nose every December.

Take for example America’s most hungry holiday, Thanksgiving.  Every year on the day Thanksgiving (another holiday whose meaning is lost), almost every shopping establishment has massive sales on their goods.   “I think as holidays become more a practice of big corporations, said rising senior Davis Jackson, “it’s more of a marketing ploy than a family celebration, and some meaning is lost.” Family members rush to go get the most perfect gift for their loved ones, an event that resulted in 7 deaths and 98 injuries just last November.

Come December, children wait eagerly for Santa Claus to bring them what they asked for, provided they were good that year. Just a century ago, this spoiled interpretation of Christmas was not the case.  “We are told by advertisements on what we need,” U.S. History teacher and father of two Dr. Derek Engram said. Christmas has devolved into a celebration of greed and selfishness, no longer the celebration of Jesus Christ as it was intended to be. ”It’s disappearing. All of these holidays with a religious context are now commercial. We have capitolism to thank for that.  Things like Christmas and Eater aren’t about giving thanks; they’re about gorging ourselves,” said anthropology teacher Mr. Dan Page.  As time has progressed, humans have come to expect more in reward out of life. In America’s earlier days, it was a miracle to not die from the flu; now American children expect a new Xbox or iPhone in remembrance of the birth of Jesus.

America is not the only country facing the devolution of the holidays. Citizens in the Middle East, whose choice holiday is Ramadan, are complaining that their celebrations have turned into drunken parties the night before the celebration starts. During the celebration of Ramadan, a celebration about The Five Pillars of Islam (the holiest of nights being Laylat al-Qadr, literally “the night of power”), those of the Islamic faith are expected to fast during the entire month Ramadan occurs. In noble preparation for the holy month ahead, many younger Muslims go out the night before and eat and drink in a rather voracious manner. Their night of debauchery is a dishonor to the holy purpose of the holiday as far as the holy leaders of Islam are concerned. The Five Pillars of Islam drive their followers to be the best individuals they can be; nowhere do The Pillars state to enjoy a night of gluttony and mindless drinking.

Unfortunately, these two examples are not the greatest dishonor facing global celebrations. Some holidays that are celebrated by America, outside of their native culture, have lost their true, reverent meaning, twisting them into a gross misrepresentation of what their native culture celebrates.  Take Cinco de Mayo, the one time a year where Americans celebrate Mexican Independence Day by throwing a wild fiesta, complete with drinks and enchiladas for all. This is all in good sport, until those celebrating realize Cinco de Mayo is not the day of Mexican Independence.  The United States of Mexico earned their independence from the Empire of Spain on September 16, 1810, and it is one of the most important holidays on the Mexican calendar. Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of the Mexican victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla. Even with this knowledge available for public consumption online, Americans still gorge themselves on Mexican food and tequila in celebration for the wrong event. Does the world even know that it is desensitized to these problems?  Changes can be made to prevent examples like this from happening; it just takes a sense of cultural awareness.  Any person can celebrate a holiday of another culture, but to go about celebrating without knowing the true meaning of a holiday is an offense to the culture it comes from.

Holidays do not need to be about the marketing prospects hidden within them. They are holy times of remembrance. The world can return to a state of universal cultural awareness if the global community can remember what these holidays are originally meant for.  If people can take just one hour a year to tell the story of Christmas, or to even just Google Cinco de Mayo, the integrity of these days can be restored.

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