A Year of Abstaining from Holidays: Father’s Day

Father’s Day has never been a holiday that my father was all too picky about. My sister and I would always ask him what he would like to do on Father’s Day and he would always reply with, “nothing.” I still would do things for him, like help clean around the house or cook dinner, but it was never really all that important to him. This year as I am not celebrating holidays it was relatively easy to not go through with Father’s Day and my father was completely fine with it. None the less, I wanted to understand why and how Father’s Day became a holiday after learning so much about Mother’s Day. (Read Mother’s Day Blog Post Here)

It was on July 5, 1908, when a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first event explicitly in honor of fathers. A Sunday sermon in memory of the 362 men who had died fathers-dayin the previous December’s explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah, but it was a one-time commemoration. The next year, a Washington, woman named Sonora Smart Dodd, tried to establish an official equivalent to Mother’s Day for male parents. She went to local churches, the YMCA, shopkeepers and government officials to drum up support for her idea, and she was successful: Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day on June 19, 1910. Slowly, the holiday spread. (history.com)

Today, the day honoring fathers is celebrated in the United States on the third Sunday of June. (history.com)

Since then there has been plenty of controversy over the holiday itself. In fact, during the 1920’s, there was a movement to scrap Mother’s Day and Father’s Day all together and create Parents’ Day. Unfortunately The Great Depression stopped this movement from continuing, as marketers needed the holiday to keep their businesses afloat. (history.com)

And just like that, Father’s Day had become just as commercialized as Mother’s Day. I do enjoy taking a day to honor and spend time with my parents but each time this happens, I feel as though I don’t do it enough on any ordinary day. It is also a fact that not everyone has a mom, or a dad, or a parent. I feel as though the commercialization isn’t needed to have a good Mother’s Day or Father’s Day; nor is it needed to buy extravagant dinners or presents. Take the day to thank whoever it was that raised you and make it a day of family.

If you would like to know more about why I am taking a year abstaining from holidays, please follow the link here.

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A Year Abstaining from Holidays: Mother’s Day

A year abstaining from holidays does include all holidays, that means Hallmark Holidays as well, and that includes Mother’s Day. This is where abstaining from holidays can become very difficult and emotional. But, before we get into that, let’s look into the history and creation of Mother’s Day.

mothers-dayCelebrations of Mother’s Day isn’t just a Hallmark Holiday, believe it or not. “It can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who held festivals in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele, but the clearest modern precedent for Mother’s Day is the early Christian festival known as ‘Mothering Sunday‘. Once a major tradition in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, this celebration fell on the fourth Sunday in Lent and was originally seen as a time when the faithful would return to their “mother church”—the main church in the vicinity of their home—for a special service. Over time the Mothering Sunday tradition shifted into a more secular holiday, and children would present their mothers with flowers and other tokens of appreciation. This custom eventually faded in popularity before merging with the American Mother’s Day in the 1930s and 1940s.” (History.com)

In America, Mother’s Day celebrations can also date back the 19th Century before the mothers-dayCivil War when Anne Reeves Jarvis in West Virginia started a collection of “Mother’s Day Work Clubs” which taught local women how to raise children. Eventually, this club was seen as a unifying force during the Civil War when Jarvis began “Mother’s Friendship Day” when mothers would gather with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation. Another precursor to Mother’s Day was former abolitionist suffragette Julia Ward Howe wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation” in 1870 as a call to action to mother’s to unite for world peace. In 1873 Howe campaigned for a “Mother’s Peace Day” to be celebrated every June 2. Other early Mother’s Day pioneers include Juliet Calhoun Blakely, a temperance activist who inspired a local Mother’s Day in Albion, Michigan, in the 1870s. The duo of Mary Towles Sasseen and Frank Hering, meanwhile, both worked to organize a Mothers’ Day in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. (History.com)

The official Mother’s Day holiday came to be in the 1900s as a result of the efforts of Anna Jarvis, daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis. After her mother’s 1905 death, Anna Jarvis conceived of Mother’s Day as a way of honoring the sacrifices mothers made for their children. in May 1908 she organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia. By 1912 many states, towns and churches had adopted Mother’s Day as an annual holiday. In 1914 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. Since then, Mother’s Day has unfortunately become overtly commercialized which was actually the exact opposite of what Jarvis wanted. She even protested against the commercialization of her holiday when originally she wanted it to be a personal recognition of mothers in the United States. (History.com)

For me, Mother’s Day has always been difficult. My parents are divorced and I live with my father. I visit my mother on occasion as she suffers from mental illnesses. Some mothers-dayMother’s Days weren’t celebrated at all, others were full of heartache because my mother and I couldn’t get along. Telling my mother I was spending a year not celebrating holidays was extremely difficult for her. She has spent some holidays alone… and this is also the reason I want to remove myself from this holiday stigma. Holidays can be a wonderful time for families to come together, but it also leaves others who cannot always see their families in pits of sadness, feeling empty inside because another day passed by spent alone, the only difference is it had a special name. I want to erase that stigma for myself and take the time to do what I feel is right for me on a day which has a name that is celebrated so much, and figure out if it is significant to me.

This Mother’s Day I did spend time with my mother. Instead of buying her a gift or taking her out to dinner. We sat and had a nice conversation over coffee and I left after telling her, “You really are a great mom.” And that is how I think a Mother’s Day should be spent.

To read on why I’m abstaining from holidays for a year, please follow this link.

And to read on my advice for telling family members and friends, please follow this link.

 

A Year of Abstaining from Holidays: May the Fourth be With You & Revenge of the Fifth ( or Cinco De Mayo?)

May the Fourth be with You and Cinco De Mayo are two drastically different yearly celebrations, however, they land within the same time period so I am going to dedicate this blog to the both of them.

May the Fourth be with You & Revenge of the Fifth

Let’s start with May the Fourth be With You. I’ve got, to be honest, this was a difficult one for me not to celebrate. I am a huge Star Wars Fan and really wanted to bring out my lightsaber. Therefore, I decided to take the time to research the holiday instead. I did always wonder, why exactly the fourth of May was a yearly day to celebrate Star Wars.

stawars4mayMay the Fourth be with You, actually started off as an internet pun. But the earliest known record of this holiday was actually used in 1979 pop-culture. As described here by author Alan Arnold while he was chronicling the making of The Empire Strikes Back for Lucasfilm:

“Margaret Thatcher has won the election and become Britain’s first woman prime minister. To celebrate their victory her party took a half page of advertising space in the London Evening News. This message, referring to the day of victory, was ‘May the Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations,’ further proof of the extent to which Star Wars has influenced us all.”

The pun didn’t necessarily start with Lucasfilm, but with Star Wars fans. As most internetrevenge-of-the-5th-t-shirt puns progress, it started with one person and skyrocketed from then on. Even though Lucasfilm didn’t create it, they happily embraced it. Along with May the Fourth be with You, we now also have the Revenge of the Fifth. These are now two days when Star Wars fans alike can celebrate the Star Wars franchise and simply have a good time.

(Information Gathered From: http://www.starwars.com/may-the-4th)

From all this research and seeing how difficult it was to actually not celebrate this holiday, I think this holiday is worth celebrating for myself in the future. May the fourth be with you, and also with you.

 

Cinco De Mayo

To be honest, I actually forgot Cinco De Mayo was happening this year. I remember celebrating it a couple times in the past but I didn’t even know what the holiday was for. Once again, I decided to look this up.

A lot of people say that Cinco De Mayo is Mexico’s Independence Day, but their Independence Day is actually celebrated every year on Septemeber 16th. Cinco De Mayo is the celebration of the Battle of Puebla which took place decades later.

“In 1861, Benito Juárez—a lawyer and member of the indigenous Zapotec tribe—was Battle-of-pueblaelected president of Mexico. At the time, the country was in financial ruin after years of internal strife, and the new president was forced to default on debt payments to European governments. In response, France, Britain and Spain sent naval forces to Veracruz, Mexico, demanding repayment. Britain and Spain negotiated with Mexico and withdrew their forces. France, however, ruled by Napoleon III, decided to use the opportunity to carve an empire out of Mexican territory. Late in 1861, a well-armed French fleet stormed Veracruz, landing a large force of troops and driving President Juárez and his government into retreat.” (history.com)

“6,000 French troops under General Charles Latrille de Lorencez set out to attack Puebla de Los Angeles, a small town in east-central Mexico. From his new headquarters in the north, Juárez rounded up a ragtag force of 2,000 loyal men—many of them either indigenous Mexicans or of mixed ancestry—and sent them to Puebla. The vastly outnumbered and poorly supplied Mexicans, led by Texas-born General Ignacio Zaragoza, fortified the town and prepared for the French assault. On May 5, 1862, Lorencez gathered his army—supported by heavy artillery—before the city of Puebla and led an assault. The battle lasted from daybreak to early evening, and when the French finally retreated they had lost nearly 500 soldiers. Fewer than 100 Mexicans had been killed in the clash.” (history.com)

Cinco-De-Mayo_tcm25-427620So, how is this victory celebrated today? Well, in Mexico, only Puebla civilians actually celebrate Cinco De Mayo. The reason the holiday has progressed in America is because at the time of the Battle of Puebla the Civil War was going on in the states. Mexicans in the US generally sided with the Union and so the Battle of Puebla as encouragement that the Union could actually win. Cinco De Mayo began to take on its new meaning in the states. Chicano activists in the 1960’s brought more awareness to the holiday as a way to resemble overcoming European oppression. Today the holiday is still recognized to celebrate Mexican culture and heritage… however, for some non-Mexican citizens, the holiday has become just another excuse to get drunk and wear sombreros.

For me, this holiday doesn’t have much significance to my life. I support American-Mexicans, but who am I to celebrate a heritage that isn’t mine or one that I know little about? I may consider celebrating if my Mexican friend wanted to grab a drink on that day because the holiday is important to them. However, for my own personal celebrations, I think I can cross this one off my list.

 

Want to know why I’m not celebrating holidays for a year? Read my first blog on this subject here:  A Year Abstaining from Holidays

A Year Abstaining from Holidays: Telling Family and Friends

I decided to take a year off celebrating holidays. That means my birthday, Hallmark holidays, national holidays… any type of specialized celebration celebrated by a majority of people. To understand why I came to this conclusion, please click here.

Today I am going to explain how that went over telling my family and friends. The first thing is they are going to be confused and there is no escaping that. You have to admit that not celebrating any holidays is a rather abnormal thing today in our world. Your family and friends will be confused, they will ask why, and even after explaining it they may still not understand. Your friends are more likely to be supportive in this situation though. The reason a family member is more likely to not understand or be supportive is because they get something out of celebrating holidays with you. They want you at that family dinner and they want you to have an excuse to come home.

With all this in mind, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell them. You should. It’s going to be a lot easier than suddenly not showing up for the Fourth of July and everyone’s wondering where you are. In fact, they may be more upset if you did that instead. It’s good to let them know ahead of time so you don’t get a surprise birthday present and have to turn it down because you are bravely abstaining from holidays for a year.

It’s also okay for them not to get it. What you need to understand is that you are doing this for yourself, fo your own interest, and your own spiritual journey. People will wonder and people will talk, but to ease their mind, maybe after they’re done celebrating Thanksgiving, invite people over for coffee to catch up. Encourage others to be happy for celebrating their holidays and listen to them. It’s all part of the growing process.

A Year Abstaining from Holidays

It’s Easter morning. I’m grumpy that I have to go to Easter Dinner later today… I think to myself as I munch on my chocolate Easter bunny and drink my coffee. What a contradicting thought to have. Why do I celebrate Easter anyway? Sure, I celebrated Easter as a child because my family is of Christian faith. We would go to church, eat dinner, then indulge in Easter candy and receive the yearly toy bunny. Today I don’t consider myself a Christian, in fact, I just spent some time over the last couple years exploring my spirituality, figuring out what I believe in. So then, what do I celebrate Easter for? Is it to be with family? Is it for the commercialization of the holiday? In fact, why do I celebrate holidays at all? For the past year, I felt such a strong disconnect from holidays. I never really wanted to make the Christmas Eve photo album, I didn’t go to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and I stayed in to watch Horror movies with friends for Halloween. The whole time I never really understood why I celebrated these days.

I decided after this Easter dinner that I will abstain from holidays for a year. Along this journey I will continue to explore my spirituality and attempt to understand the meaning of holidays; why do they exist and why do we celebrate them?

Here are my rules:

  1. I will not accept any invites to any dinners or parties that celebrate a holiday.
  2. I will not purchase any holiday themed items.
  3. I will not wish anyone a happy holiday.
  4. I will not watch any holiday themed films or listen to any holiday themed music.
  5. I will not eat any holiday themed food or drink any holiday themed drinks.
  6. I will not take any holidays off of work.

And thus my journey begins. No holidays for a year. This better be a damn good last holiday dinner.