Holidays, why and wherefore

With this holiday season, I’ve been thinking a lot about celebrating the holidays. Why do we celebrate? What purposes do the holidays serve? How should we celebrate them?

I think it was on Veteran’s day that it occurred to me that a holiday should teach something or be something worth celebrating. That helped me define why I never really liked ‘celebrating’ Halloween. Celebrating All Saints Day, on the other hand seems worth the time and effort. The same for Veteran’s day. I’ve decided I want to think through each holiday and consider what it teaches or what is it celebrating. Those holidays that have something worth teaching or celebrating will receive some attention from me. And those holidays that don’t have anything worth teaching or celebrating won’t get any attention from me.

Hubby pointed out the origin of ‘holiday’. ‘Holy Day’. I’m tempted to pull out a church calendar and figure out what days are traditionally designated as ‘holy’ and consider those. It seems to me, though, as a protestant christian, that there are really only three truly holy days… Christmas, Good Friday and Easter. The birth, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savor. (I also figure I’ve missed a few, I never really have the full picture. Do any of us?)

Other ‘holidays’, like Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, and a slew of others are more accurately ‘observances’ (that was another Hubby insight). These days are there to remind us of something important, and we should take the time to reminded, but I don’t think they should receive the same attention that the Holy Days receive.

All this thinking is getting some practical application. As we head into the Christmas season, I want to focus on teaching Doctor Destructo (and reminding Hubby and I) what we are celebrating and why we celebrate it. Its not about Santa Claus (though St. Nick has some good history to him), nor is it about snow or jingle bells, nor is it about ‘Christmas cheer’. (though hopefully we will have some of that). I want Doctor Destructo to know clearly that we celebrate Christmas to celebrate the birth of Jesus. And I want most of what we do to point to that. (I’m still figuring out how Christmas cookies play into this…)

I’d love to see posts and thoughts from others on if and how you do this. Do you do advent? What does it look like in your family?

I have a mind to post as I do things, explaining the whys and wherefores for the various things I do. It will also get me figuring out why we do things besides ‘this is what we’ve always done’ or ‘this is what my mom did’. How about you? Is this important to you?



  1. Through my husband I’ve learned so much about Jewish holidays and celebrations. I really enjoy celebrating Passover (the other holidays too but especially this one.) We will begin celebrating Hanukkah on the 8th. Growing up we did advent and called it our ‘candle time’. We’re still trying to not just mash-up Hanukkah and Christmas but celebrate them for their true meanings. Hanukkah: the Festival of Lights – a holiday that celebrates God’s faithfulness and Christmas – a holiday that celebrates the birth of the Light of the World.

    • I was even thinking of you and your family as I typed this. And I wondered what holidays you celebrated. I love the idea of celebrating passover and how that points so clearly to a Easter. I’m gonna have to think more this!

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