With each passing year, it seems as though the original meanings behind holidays are forgotten more and more. Some holidays are almost completely overlooked, acknowledged by a quick radio announcement or Google Doodle at best. More widely celebrated holidays are excuses to throw parties and get drunk. While holidays are a time of celebration, we cannot disregard their true meanings and the importance of these special days.
By definition, a holiday is a day set aside by custom or law during which business, work, and school hours are either suspended or reduced. This is in order to allow individuals to celebrate or commemorate an event or tradition of cultural or religious significance. For Christians, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Latinos celebrate the Day of the Dead every November to remember loved ones who have passed on to the next life. Valentine’s Day is a celebration of love, Thanksgiving is a day of appreciation for the blessings we have in our lives, and so on. Every holiday has a meaning and importance behind it, whether it belongs to a small group of people or the whole world. Even so, most Americans find an excuse to make holidays impersonal and instead use them to support their own interests.
“I feel like Cinco De Mayo, and other holidays like St. Patrick’s Day, have slowly been taken advantage of. When we have school off for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we hang out with our friends and go to Six Flags, or to the beach. Most of us don’t even recognize Martin Luther King Jr. It’s just another day off from school,” junior Shania Hansen said.
Similarly, Memorial Day is a solemn day of remembrance for everyone who has died serving in the American armed forces. On Veterans Day, Veterans are thanked for their services to our country. Today, both Memorial and Veterans Day are minimalized to backyard barbeques and three-day weekends. “Happy Memorial Day,” people say, forgetting that this holiday isn’t a happy one at all. It is sad that in our fast-paced lifestyles, we cannot take a small time out of our day to honor our veterans.
While many people take advantage of these holidays, companies, businesses, fast food chains, and clothing stores take full advantage as well of the opportunity for consumerism. Commercials and billboards blast announcements for “Fourth of July clothing sale! Buy your favorite pair of jeans, get one free,” and aisles upon aisles of green flood every store a month before St. Patrick’s Day is observed. Most infamously during “Christmas Season,” stores start selling Christmas themed products as early as October.
“It’s like Thanksgiving, and even Halloween, have become just another holiday before Christmas. Companies just want our money, they are doing what they do. I feel like Christmas has become more of a competition: who can out-gift the other. And I know that may not sound all too bad, but in the end we forget the one person the holiday is all about,” Hansen said.
In the end, the solution is simple. If it doesn’t apply to you, don’t celebrate–don’t make it apply to you. If we stop belittling holidays, and respect their true purposes, we can restore the spirit that once was.