What is the point of a holiday? Is it just to have a day (or a week) off from work or school? Is it just to spend time with distant relatives you never spend time with otherwise? Is it just to kick back, have fun, and watch the big game?
Or is it something more?
There’s a line in ‘Rocky‘ that illustrates this point perfectly. Rocky Balboa goes on a date with a girl he likes (Adrian), on Thanksgiving. He’s completely oblivious to that fact, though. Adrian even explicitly points out that it’s a special day, but Rocky responds, “To you, it’s Thanksgiving. To me, it’s Thursday.”
Think about that…
For countless Americans, Thanksgiving is one of the most special days of the year. It’s when we celebrate the Pilgrims’ faith and courage in cultivating our new land, where they could live in peace and liberty away from religious persecution.
The day is far more than simply a meal, much as how charity is far more than simply giving money. The meal is the outward expression of what’s going on internally as we remember what it represents: bounteous blessings, nourishment from the Almighty, and a chance to share with others.
But in Rocky’s case, the meaning of the day either wasn’t taught or it was long forgotten. Whatever the reason, the day lost its significance. It wasn’t special; it had merely become “Thursday”.
If we allow the removal of holiness from holidays (etymology: “holy days“), what are they? They’re just any other day of the week.
Christmas is all about Jesus Christ. There’s no need to say “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” in hopes of not offending anyone by stating what time of year it actually is.
I always say “Merry Christmas”, since I intend to communicate my wish for people to be happy, and remember that this particular holiday is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. They don’t have to believe in Him, any more than I would expect someone to believe in Judaism by wishing them a happy Yom Kippur.
Christmas is not just presents, food, trees, and lights. Like Thanksgiving, all of those things are meant to represent far more than just the physical objects.
But if we only keep the outward expressions of a custom, a holiday or a tradition without keeping in mind what those expressions truly signify, then all we have is the hollow shell and none of the deeper meaning within.
And the holiday which allows that to happen, won’t remain a holiday for long.
Robert lives in Utah with his wife and three children. He enjoys running, biking, reading, and watching movies with his family.