Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Happy Holidays (2015 edition)

Apparently, novelty candidate Donald Trump and some random Youtube pastor have decided that the annual "War on Christmas" is starting again: this time, it's because Starbucks changed their cups to plain red (which is particularly stupid, since what Starbucks removed from the cups wasn't Christian imagery; it was just random snowflakes, reindeer, and other secular decorations).

But as usual, the cries of "they can't say 'Merry Christmas' anymore!" are also going up. (I particularly like Trump's quote: "If I become president, we're all going to be saying, 'Merry Christmas' again. That I can tell you." Because he thinks that's a law he can pass? And people complain that OBAMA is a "dictator"?)

But, you know, "happy holidays" is actually a valid thing to say for the rest of the year. It isn't that there's a war on Christmas - somebody seems to have forgotten that there are other holidays.

For example, today was Veteran's Day. Speaking as a veteran, fuck you if you're ignoring it in favor of something a month and a half away. (The British call it "Armistice Day." If you happen to be Canadian, it's called "Remembrance Day" - same thing, just more polite.)

If you happen to be Hindu, this whole week is a celebration, based around Diwali (most of the festivals have different names in different parts of India, since they have a cubic buttload of languages in that country). You missed Dhanteras on Monday, but today is specifically Diwali, the "Festival of Lights," which spiritually celebrates the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair. It's a big-ass party, and you're missing out on it just because you're too small-minded and provincial to move out of your comfort zone.

It also happens to be Kali Puja, where the remembrance of Kali sets you free from evil, both within yourself and from the world around you. So there's that. And then tomorrow, the fourth night of Diwali, is called Govardhan Puja, when Krishna defeated Indra by benchpressing the Govardhan hill. (Seriously - look it up.)

And then, on the fifth day of Diwali, we have Bhai Dooj, which is all about celebrating the bonds between brother and sister. (It's a little bit sexist, to be honest - the sister is supposed to cook the brother's favorite food, and it's all about the duty of a brother to protect his sister, and a sister's blessings for her brother. But, hey, if they aren't yelling at each other? That's a bonus right there.)

Then, this Sunday (November 15th) through Wednesday morning (the 18th, if that math is a little hard for you) , we have Chhath Puja, which is thanking the Sun god for his blessings (and maybe getting a little spiritual cleansing in, at the same time). It's famous for being the holiday when Hindus bathe themselves in the waters of the Ganges and epidemiologists have heart attacks.

The day after that, November 19th, is the Great American Smokeout. Not really a holiday, but since my mom smoked herself to an early grave, I support it. So there it is.

And for Pete's sake, we haven't even made it to Thanksgiving, people! How can you bitch about "taking Christ out of Christmas" when you're ignoring "Giving Thanks"? (And for my own little part in the War on Christmas, Santa needs to haul his fat jolly ass back on the other side of Thanksgiving, where he belongs!)

Advent begins on November 29th, too. You're going to bitch about ignoring Christmas, but all you do with Advent is pull pieces of chocolate out of a calendar?

For that matter, both the Christian tradition and our secular friends have a whole flood of holidays throughout the month of December, as I've covered before. Feel free to review some of them if you're curious.

Among the Buddhists, the 8th of December will be Rohatsu, or Bodhi Day. (Rohatsu literally means "8th day of the 12th month," incidentally.) It commemorates the day that the Buddha (Siddhartha Gautauma, or Shakyamuni) achieved enlightenment. Traditions vary amongst Buddhist sects, but usually include meditation, study of the texts, chanting the sutras, or simply performing kind acts toward others.

Now, Chanukah this year will run from sunset on Sunday, December 6, through Monday, December 14, 2015. This should be moderately important to Fox "News" watchers, since they like to trumpet the importance of the "Judeo-Christian tradition." Weirdly, the "Judeo" half of that seems to fall to the wayside a lot.

Which means that they'll also be ignoring the fast of the Tenth of Tevet (in Hebrew, עשרה בטבת‎, or Asarah Be'Tevet), which happens to fall on December 22 this year. It commemorates the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, and among observant Jews, it's a day of fasting from dawn until dusk, with a small service at the end of the day.

Most interestingly, to me at least, December 24th (Christmas Eve to most Americans) has a special meaning this year. It also happens to be Eid Milad ul-Nabi, the Sunni celebration of the birth of the Prophet: the Sunni celebrate it on the 12th day of Rabi' al-awwal (the third month in the Islamic calendar); the Shia celebrate it on the 17th of Rabi' al-awwal. (If you're curious, some sects of Islam, particularly the Wahabbi, consider the celebration itself to be bid'ah, an unnecessary religious innovation.)

Depending on where you are in the world, the observance can be anything from a solemn ceremony to a carnival atmosphere, and can include anything from an exchange of gifts to doing charitable work.

So you see, there are plenty of holidays to come through the end of the year. And with about 3 out of every 10 customers not being Christian (and even among the remaining 70%, there being a lot more than just Christmas to be observed), obviously, it's only reasonable to say "Happy Holidays!"

1 comment:

(O)CT(O)PUS said...

Happy Thanksgiving! Keep lambasting those turkeys and knock the stuffing out of them.