I generally dislike the label 'holiday.'
Being someone who is atheist, I stand on general purpose.
'Holiday' comes from 'Holy Day' or a religious-centric word.
I prefer the much more P.C term of 'observation day.'
Maybe I'll insist on calling it 'obserdays.'
Obserdays. I like that. It sounds a lot like Absurdities. And of course it is a little tongue-in-cheek mockery of theistic traditions.
Cultural memes. Religious memes. They differ from region to region and even family to family.
Hell, that's all holidays really are. Theme days. It's just where certain groups of people all do vaguely the same sort of thing at a specific date and time. Fucking bizarre behavior, if you think about it.
Looking at it that way, I am again reminded that religion has all the intellectual relevance of LoLcatz.
But not everything is about the intellect. Just like many other primates, we need social interaction to thrive. It's not just our psychological health that's at stake, either. Pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases, hypertensive disorders and even obesity can be linked to underlying emotional causes. Isolation is not healthy for most people.
I can easily make the leap that humans do what they do as a way to maintain 'family' or 'closeness' or 'community' or 'culture' or 'tribe.'
Ah.. there is that word again.
I love it because it is just one step away from being 'pack.' That reminds me that we haven't always been 'human' and at one point probably weren't much brighter than the average ape. Hell, looking at some people now, I can see some of us have made it further than others.
And any time you need an explanation for why people do what they do, when we just take that step back and look at ourselves like we would any other species of any other animal, we can usually see why we have impulses to do certain things.
Cultures make up traditions because it gives them a sense of reinforced social bonding, which was once necessary to our survival.
Ever notice how the more barbaric the culture, the more stringent they observe their holidays? I'm pretty sure Uncle Honor-Killer isn't sneaking Cheetos during Ramadan.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are people like me and my husband. No religion, no need for social bonding outside of each other. His family lives in Scotland and I've never been close to mine. We are atheist and that leaves us free to pick and chose what we want to celebrate and how we want to go about it.
Holidays are usually way more about family than the religion itself in modern America.
We have 0% stock in religion and only ourselves to answer to.
It's fun trying out new things and seeing what sticks. We've never lived in any area for more than a year yet, so it isn't like we can really develop too many patterns.
This is where we are at so far:
Our anniversary is on my birthday. His is in May.
We try to attend Robert Burns festivities depending on where we are geographically. (Though oddly enough, my first Burns Night was at an English pub in Thailand. It was my first real haggis, too. The haggis was flown in from Singapore that day, for the event. It was a very multicultural Burns night. My husband was the only Scotsman in attendance!)
Halloween is my favorite, but it depends on what country we are in. No one does Halloween as well as San Francisco. I've flown all the way across the world JUST for Halloween weekend!
Towel Day parties are the best!
Happy Gay Day! Again, you can't beat SF Pride, but it's fun seeing how other cities do it, too!
New Year (And Chinese New Year and Songkran when we lived in Asia.) Hell yeah! I love taking a moment to reflect on the past while looking forward to the present.
Thanksgiving- This is another truly American thing. It's sort of like Christmas dinner, but without any presents. I guess that makes it only half the stress, right? I do it and I do it with style! Giving Thanks isn't just something for the religious. I feel humbled and proud of so many things in this world. Taking pause to express it in the written or verbal form is a tradition that I'm beginning to appreciate. I make sure to send an email telling someone important to me WHY they are important to me and how much I'm happy they are in my life. That's giving thanks. I go out and literally thank someone. Someone REAL.
So how do you celebrate? What are your traditions?
Rapture parties are becoming way more popular here in the Bay Area. Or Day-After parties, too. You know it's going to be a good crowd, and there are enough nut jobs out there to guarantee at least one good kick-up a year.
So what do you say?
Should we as atheists take this one as a floater?
A "holiday" or celebration that pops up once a year but usually on a different date? I mean, the crazies will be deciding it for us, but that will just make it all the more original and interesting.
How about instead of people with agendas hijacking the event and twisting it to shape their desires, we just fully admit they choose the time, but we pick the traditions? Let's call it a truce, draw a line in the sand and
do it OUR way on the date they want!