But celebrations and holy-days are not necessarily constrained to religious frameworks. That just happens to be the case because of the cultural traditions and beliefs of the ancestral peoples. Some are based on folklores, such as harvest celebrations, or celestial calendrical recognitions, or days of remembrance of folk heroes and tales. These have intimate meaning to agrarian societies and is a reflection of their closeness to the seasonal rhythms of the earth, and their tremendous dependence on nature's blessing. One must celebrate the coming of spring to bring bounty to the crops during the growing season. The midsummer must be rejoiced as a sign of a good and promising year, and if not, as a way of convincing the powers that be to bring favorable weather. The harvest is a party time of plenty, and the winter is entered with a sense of foreboding, but also with a hopeful expectation of an early spring and mercy from the deadly chill. The clockwork of nature was then the clockwork of man, in harmony at the most basic sustenance level of dependence and of cosmological awe.
Industry however disassociated man from nature, and there was no longer a compelling reason to celebrate the seasons of farmers. The rational man likewise no longer needed to keep the Sabbath or religious holidays of those superstitious ignoramuses. He was now a free man in a scientific and democratic world, to create his own holidays for the things that he believed mattered to himself and to his compatriots. Days such as remembrance of fallen heroes upon battlefields, or of independence from tyrannical landlords, or celebrations of important people instrumental in the establishment of the nations and the like took center stage in the cultural days of significance. Such celebrations bonded people in national terms and defined them as a society. No matter what our differences, those celebrations brought the opposing disagreements and squabbles to the sidelines and the nation's ideals took prominence.
These are roughly the constituent parts of our modern concept of a holiday. Various groupings have their own special days, and they usually are a mix of these types as a way of keeping tradition alive and to be reminded of the core values important for the cohesion of their group identity. But there are many people who do not celebrate any of these whatsoever and never get in the "holiday spirit". Ebenezer Scrooge would be a perfect fit in this modern age - spreading a good deal of "Bah Humbugs" to every occasion for celebrations and replacing them with yet another excuse for increasing profits. If God rested on the seventh day, shouldn't man need to rest as much? If the gods needed man's offerings and celebrations for celestial events, shouldn't man celebrate the beauty of the celestials and remember to give thanks to nature? And if the ideals of the land and the people give meaning to our heritage and our culture, shouldn't we honor our ancestors and our fellow countrymen as brothers and sisters united by this common charge to uphold its foundational laws and codes? In other words, holidays are not just days of rest from the hamster wheel. They require a different kind of work and they need to be embraced and given personal meaning to invigorate ourselves, our families, and our friends. The whole-y-days need to unite us in love and we must use them to help us grow as a people.
Judge the tree by its fruits. But remember to...
Wash the beam out of your eye with soap.