I’ll begin this essay with the disclaimer that it might be a polarizing topic and that I fully support everyone’s right to believe and celebrate whatever they wish. I also support the decision to question beliefs and let go of what’s no longer serving us.
After becoming a parent, I started noticing more and more aspects of holiday traditions in the U.S. that I hadn’t given much thought to before. At first, I became increasingly aware of the overwhelming commercialism. It feels like we’ve lost so much of the substance and connection to these holidays and replaced it with things. I’m by no means a minimalist, but I do believe that material things should support the holiday, not the other way around.
The second and more complicated concern that kept coming up in my quest to find meaning is that actually, I don’t fundamentally agree with most of the holidays I’ve always celebrated.
Thanksgiving is so closely tied to colonialism and white supremacy.
I’m very spiritual, but not religious, calling into question my celebration of Christmas and Easter.
I also have struggled with Halloween, because it’s so much more than dressing up and begging for candy. The origins are rich and fascinating, but you’d never know it based on how we celebrate today. I also don’t see what’s so scary about black cats and witches, but that’s a rant for another day 🙂
I’ve thought a lot about what I want from traditions for our family that I’m not getting under the traditional holiday system:
- Celebration of seasonal changes and what’s happening in nature
- Gratitude for the abundance in our lives
- Acknowledgement of our privilege as a white family living in America
- A focus on experiences, not things
Most of the Christian holidays we celebrate today are modifications of pagan celebrations and customs, so my research began there. After all, I don’t want to completely throw out our traditions…I want to understand their roots so that I can better honor them and perhaps even bring back some of the original intentions that have been lost.
My goal, beginning with this year’s holiday season, is to try new things to determine what sparks joy for our family and to retire what no longer feels authentic. I’ll cover the autumn equinox/Mabon, Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Halloween/Samhain, Thanksgiving, the winter solstice and Christmas.
I hope you’ll join me as I document our experiences along the way!