Culture Conflict

Holidays as Territory: Flags and the Principles Implicit in Trappings

You may have noticed that certain holidays often coincide, leading to a feeling akin to flags being planted on the same hill. Holidays, at their core, represent their territory in recurring time. They are marked by specific days and by specific people, those who acknowledge their significance. But what happens when multiple holidays share the same date among the same people? It’s as though these flags are in a territorial struggle for our attention. But it’s not just about Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day – an obviously antagonistic pairing meant to bring to the attention of anyone with a Google calendar that there’s a problem to attend to, a battle to fight, a side with whom to sign up.

Consider May 1st, which serves as both May Day and Earth Day, and interestingly marks the anniversary of the founding of the Illuminati. April 19th and 20th also hold historical significance, signifying movements and anniversaries of great importance to the movement toward global government. These days then become hills to die on for certain ideas, as political groups vie for a sense of relation to a historic event, compare themselves to previous heroes, or compete for cultural prominence. Juneteenth and Pride Month are purported to be about ‘Love,’ consisting of parading down streets and through the media, promoting sexual themes, and spending a lot of resources on outreach to children. That the performance art season of this fifth column happens to coincide with the Christian holy month of the Sacred Heart of Christ – the Agape love of God – is not lost on those targeted for an ironic confrontation.

Take Halloween and All Saints Day, the more prominent of which was arguably resurrected by candy industry interests – a zombie holiday about zombies. Celebrated on October 31st and November 1st, the choice of how to observe the season reflects one’s cultural alignment. Participation is a declaration of values and identity. Think of Easter and Passover, two holidays that overlap – but how much do we see the religious trappings of either during the season, the ‘Kairos‘, of the Passover and Resurrection celebration? Even in our present memory of that time of year, the secular sleaze is pasted over our mind’s eye.

And then there’s Christmas, a time when the secular figure of Santa Claus shares the spotlight with the Nativity. Holidays can maintain their ‘celebratory’ environment while swapping out the aesthetic for something easily knocked down later: attacks on Christmas celebrations are no longer an attack on God, but on what’s become a commercialized stress-fest anyway. Principles are implicit in trappings, and we allow their theft and replacement with counterfeits at our predictable peril.

Our holidays are flags marking territory (in time rather than space), linked with our identities. Anyone celebrating with you is ‘your people;’ participation binds us together much like a flag. The unspoken absence or imposing presence of visible representation of culture during a holiday season can have far-reaching consequences. Imagine if All Saints Day were marked with public images of saints and Christian motifs throughout October. The culture is then celebrated and represented effectively. If the decomposing dead are seen in every shopping mall, may the upturned faces of praying saints and angels decorate those places not cursed by the cultural rot. Again, principles are implicit in trappings, though people will resist this idea with a surprising fervor under the right circumstances.

The heart of the matter is the importance of holidays as support structures for tight communities. Celebrating a holiday isn’t about personal reflection but about participation; it’s about contributing to a vibrant, living local cultural landscape. Our liturgical calendar and our national holidays constitute the drumbeat that maintains the flow of culture, one generation to the next, ordering a blessed space to live in and keeping the ravages of time from leaving our people and our values behind. The rhythm and melody of culture also prevents incursion or manipulation of values from outside, and makes potential invaders – people with opposing, destructive values – stick out in sharp relief against the peaceful, ordered background.

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