Christmas: A Religious or Secular Holiday?
Is Christmas in America a religious holiday or a secular one? It's safe to say that both of these are two polarizing perspectives of the same holiday. However, they inadvertently share one common denominator: Christmas is the time for giving.
If you are, say, an American Catholic, you would be fervently caught up in the religious festivities of Advent. Advent lasts for four weeks and consists of a series of ceremonies that lead up to Christmas Day. The climax is reached at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. These elaborate rituals hold one key message: to give -- give of yourself, your money, and your time to the Church; give to the underprivileged; and give to your community and to your family. Likewise, many nonreligious people also believe in the power of giving, as well.
Christmas: An End-of-the-Year Holiday
Perhaps we, Americans, tend to measure the success of our lives to the quality of our Christmases. In other words, the way our Christmas plays out may reflect the way we view ourselves as a whole. If we are able to perform acts of kindness or buy lots of gifts for others, we may deem ourselves as being a rather successful person. But if we are drowning in misery, down on our luck, and feeling hopeless, we may deem ourselves as being somewhat of a failure. Common post-Christmas declarations are: "That was the best Christmas ever! I'll always remember that one!" or "That was the worst Christmas ever! I just want to forget that one!"
Not only do we evaluate our Christmas season but, we evaluate our entire year, as well. After all, Western Christmas falls on December 25th, which is located at the end of the year on the calendar. This is a perfect time to revisit the year that we have just lived, and furthermore, scrutinize the manner in which we had lived it.
In fact, at one time, prior to social media, it was popular for the mom or dad of a family to snail-mail out a newsletter at Christmas time. The newsletter would be, either, in place of a Christmas card or tucked inside one. It would inevitably recount, in excruciating detail, the achievements of each and every member of the family for the duration of that long-lived year.
Did a recipient really like receiving this long-winded newsletter? Did a reader subconsciously begin to compare his own life to that of the lives of the writer’s family? The answer to these questions will be the same answer to the following question: How do you feel when you see a picture-perfect life framed on social media?
What is the Difference Between Christmas and New Year's Celebrations?
Christmas happens at the end of the year and before New Year’s. Christmas is for family. Christmas is a time for major gift-giving. Christmas colors are red and green. Many stores are open on Christmas Day.
New Year’s happens after Christmas and is the first holiday of the new year. New Year’s is for adults. New Year’s Eve is a time for major drinking and New Year’s Day is a time for hangovers. New Year’s colors are silver and gold. Even the most loyal 24/7 stores are closed on New Year’s Day. New Year’s is the time for your New Year’s resolution.
The American Resolution
After all the old holidays have marched passed in succession, namely, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day, we now have the chance to begin anew. We’ve made some horribly embarrassing mistakes during the old year and now we want to make things right. We want to self-improve. We want to be thinner, happier, prettier, smarter, be less awkward, be more sociable, and make more money.
We had long pondered, to great depths during the holidays, on what our New Year’s resolution should be, and now we know what to do. We take a solemn oath, vowing to become a better person and a “new me.” And, on January 2nd, our New Year’s resolution officially takes effect. We resolve to join that gym or fitness class, give up that fast food and buy a juicer, get that face-lift or those extra Botox injections, subscribe to that book club, take that course, donate to that organization, take up that cause, start writing that blog, or just be kinder to that neighbor.
And marketers love our New Year’s resolutions, too! They have always played on our desire for a fresh new start on January 2nd. There are so many things to buy, so many places to join, so many things to do, so many offers and discounts to accept. Your new look! The new you! How long does this pledge last? Ummm… Let’s just say, we always have next New Year’s resolution to long ponder…
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