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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Philosophy is Phun Blog # 55 – Holidays

Earlier this week I got an email from one of the Vice Presidents here at the University of Maryland about the traditional University Holiday Card and it made me start to think about how important holidays are to not only the America public but to the whole world as well. This is the special time of the year where everyone comes together to take time to celebrate family, friendships, and life as a whole. I personally love this time of the year because it brings people together and there is a certain feeling in the air. It first starts with Thanksgiving that was originally started to celebrate a great harvest of the fall and to hold a feast for everything that it has produced. As time has progressed, it has given us the opportunity to show our love and proves that family and friends are of great importance in a healthy live, just as much as a great food is. As we all get busy with school and work, it is really easy to forget what it really important in your life. Coming next week when we all have the opportunity to go home I hope that you all will show your family and friends just how important they are in your lives.

But that is just the start of the holiday season! Once the end of October and Halloween comes around you can almost feel a different vibe in the air. There are so many emotions attached to this time of the year. Just like Thanksgiving represents a strong communal bond, the holiday season only accentuates this after November ends too. Whether you’re watching the 25 Days of Christmas on ABC Family or hear some holiday music blaring, you can feel the holiday spirit in the air. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza or Christmahanakwanzika, we all can agree that December is a very special month. Everyone is happy and it provides college kids the opportunity to head home and relive parts of their life that used to seem like distant memories. Unless you are Mr. Scrooge, it is obvious how much more friendly everyone is because that is a huge side effect of the holidays.

Holidays in modern society have come to mean a lot of different things and have changed from their original purposes. One of the biggest things that have become attached with the holiday season today is materialism. Black Friday is one of the biggest days for retailers and most stores often open at 4 a.m. with tons of promotional deals encouraging consumers to make the treks to their local shopping malls. Capitalism and commercialism really benefit from the holiday season, probably something that jolly ol’ St. Nick didn’t intend to happen.

If you didn’t get that reference that I made then you probably don’t know the origins of popular holiday traditions. Most people have completely forgotten the religious aspects of the holiday season. I’m not going to even pretend to you that I know beyond the basics. Just google Christmas origins and you’ll find out so many things that you had no idea were even true. It is important to find out the roots of these traditions that are so deeply rooted in modern society because they played a role in making Santa Claus the plump man with the beard he is today.

As the end of December comes around, New Year’s wraps up the holiday season. New Year’s essentially marks a brand new beginning. Besides the obvious fact that it is a brand new year, it holds with it the idea that you are given a clean slate to make your life the way you want to. You approach the coming year with personal goals and resolutions that you want to carry out that will better your life. Whether it’s losing weight, making new friends, or something entirely different, it is a common tradition to enter the new year with a purpose of improving your current lifestyle.

I think an overarching commonality that connects all of these holidays is celebration. As a college, student partying is important to relieve stress but the holidays provide an opportunity to party with purpose. We celebrate our families, our health and wealth, and overall, our life. Not many people are as blessed as we are so holidays represent a chance for us to say thanks and really appreciate all that is afforded to us.

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