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[P]
My Holidays' Meanings

By schrotie in Culture
Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 06:58:27 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

I think holidays and their public perception tell a lot about culture. In this article I will arbitrarily pick a couple of holidays, give some "official" account of what they are about and then give an account of what they mean to me.


Introductory Note

Links to English sites are in italics, other links lead to German sites.
This is a very personal account. I live in Germany and I'm pretty cynical about my culture. Please, do not feel offended by my views, I do not want to spoil your favourite holiday for you. If you have a different perception of some holiday, by all means, write about it. If I did not mention some holiday you find significant, by all means, write about it. Only thus can this article achieve what I can not hope to achieve alone: a thorough account of the public perception of various culture's holidays.

Various Religious Bogus

There exist a couple of religious holidays in Germany about which little is publicly known. Some of them are "Sundays" meaning most labour is suspended for that day. Though many people do not even know what they are supposed to celebrate or contemplate on these days.
Take for example Fronleichnam (60 days after Easter, see below). The name is made up of two German words: Fron (= soccage) and Leichnam (= corpse). The English name for the holiday is Corpus Christi. The original intent was to celebrate the possibility of salvation through the sacrifice of Christ. But this holiday is often referred to as "Happy Cadaver" (sic! It is a German anglicism). That pun deliberately misunderstands the holiday as Frohleichnam: Froh = happy.
This pun may be regarded as heresy by people who know and value the "real" meaning of the holiday. Thus the commonness of the pun tells a lot about what this holiday means for today's culture. There are dozens of such religious holidays that become all but extinct in my culture.
To me they mean little beside one implication: The traces the very religious history of my culture left are rapidly fading in the sand; washed away by the tides of a very different culture that is closing its grip on my people.

Christmas (24.-26.12.) and Easter (1st Sunday after spring full moon)

These are the highest Christian holidays in Germany. Easter is meant for contemplating the resurrection of Christ. With his death and rebirth he is supposed to have freed mankind from original sin. He is supposed to have died for us. But easter is marginalized by Christmas which celebrates Christ's birth. This has probably less to do with the agreeable implications of birth as opposed to death or the metaphysical difficulties with contemplating resurrection than with an important tradition: On Christmas you give gifts. This tradition stems from another holiday about two weeks after Christmas: Three kings are said to have visited the newborn Jesus and brought gifts. I do not know why the tradition switched holidays in some christian cultures and not in others.
Anyway the gifts have become far more important to many people than the religious implications. And Christmas in Germany is the most important family holiday. Families come together, eat tons of food, fight and spoil relations for the year to come. It might be kind of like Thanksgiving in the US. There is an aphorism that sums up my views on Easter and Christmas very well: Yeah, see: On Easter Christ saved our souls. Oh well and fine. But you know, on Christmas! Yes, on Christmas he saved the retail industry.

New Year's Eve (31.12.) and Carnival (45+ days before Easter)

Officially these holidays have nothing to do with each other. I put them in one section because the ways the are celebrated have some things in common.
Sylvester - another name for New Year's Eve - marks the end of the year and the beginning of a new one. Carnival marks the beginning of lent before Easter. As one editor pointed out: "[...] to get one last party in before you spent the next 40 days thinking about what a rotten person you are[...]". In Germany it has a rather political tradition. Carnival is marked by an inversion of rules and the rule of jesters.
The carnival season (the "fifth season") starts at 11/11 (11:11 hours). In carnival sessions which are held in public halls, people give more or less funny speeches and the carnival wagons are prepared. These wagons will drive through the streets on Carnival Monday (47 days before Easter) and the following Tuesday. The wagons usually exhibit some criticism of some public person. The whole madness ends on Ash Wednesday (45 days before Easter). There are more traditions connected with carnival in Germany (partly with other special days). The carnival traditions are especially strong along the river Rhein.
Many traditions are connected to these two holidays, some of them very old. Sylvester traditions are about driving the bad ghosts away and about foreseeing the future. Carnival traditions are about rules and criticism of the rulers. Many of these traditions are still enacted today.
Superficially both holidays are big parties. You get drunk - badly. You enjoy yourself as good as possible, you dance, do crazy things and screw perfect strangers. To me they are traditional holidays transformed by our hedonistic society. In that way they are icons of the strength of our current culture, incorporating elements of other cultures (in this case the culture our's used to be), digesting them and spitting out something barely recognisable.

Day of German Unity (3.10.)

This is a young one. It celebrates the toppling of The Wall and the re-unification of Germany.
It also marks the fall of the USSR and the failure of Leninism/Stalinism and the annexation and ingestion of eastern Germany by my culture. After the wall fell it was not clear what would happen to eastern Germany. There was some slim chance of something new emerging there. Eastern Germany had a strong idealistic civil movement and fresh memories of the good aspects of their former system and its bad aspects. In effect it was swallowed whole by the west.

Day of Labour (1.5.)

The first of May reminds of the riots of labourers in Chicago 1886. It was instrumentalized by socialists to commemorate the suppressed of the world. Proletarians of the world ... The holiday is pretty marginalized today.
Many people might have a faint idea what the day is about. To some it might stand as a reminder of a failed ideology. To me it means little. Who gives a shit about the supressed of the world?

Unofficial Holidays

The following holidays are "unofficial". They do not show up in calendars, all are of recent origins. Yet they are more significant to many people than the Various Religious Bogus holidays I wrote about above. The latter being welcome days off work at best.

Love Parade (some day in summer)

The biggest party of the world. Hundreds of thousands of people march through Berlin city annually, dancing through the streets to the loud beats of techno music. The Love Parade is famous for half or completely naked people using all kinds of drugs, having sex and enjoying themselves visibly. Don't flame me, I know this is an overused stereotype, but it reflects the public perception of the Love Parade. It is an open celebration of hedonism and thus and icon of our society.

Christopher Street Day (changing date)

Christopher Street Day is the "German" name of the Stonewall riots commemoration or Gay Pride day.
Superficially the Christopher Street Day looks much like the Love Parade. With one small difference: Most participants are homosexual. The Christopher Street Day goes back to events in the Christopher Street, New York 1969. For the first time homosexuals resisted the state terror they had to endure for centuries. Thus in my cosmology the Christopher Street Day has a special place. It is one of the last visible memorials of people fighting for freedom. And they do it in the culturaly most appropriate form: they - again - celebrate hedonism.

Valentines Day (14.2.)

St. Valentine was a Christian priest in the 3rd century who was executed for marrying people. The holiday is celebrated by giving flowers to your love. On the one hand it is a nice holiday worshipping love and all. On the other hand it bears the unnerving signature of commercialization like almost everything in my culture. Go buy flowers for your love. You're not going to show up with some pathetic self picked bouquet, are you?

Chaos Days (changing date)

The chaos days are an amazing memorial of our society. People meet yearly in some German city (it started in Hanover and happened there most of the years) - and riot. Yes really, we institutionalized our riots. You see, we are Germans. Certainly, the police do their best to beat the freaks up, but they keep coming year after year after year to wreak havoc. To show us what they think about our culture. They collect their spanking and go home. To return next year. No comment.

Geo Day of Biodiversity (some day in summer)

The German magazine Geo (comparable to National Geographic) initialized that day in 1998. Annually hundreds of scientists and thousands of interested laymen go out and catalogue species in some chosen spot. The day was invented to raise awareness of the biodiversity (or soon lack thereof) issue.
I like that one. It instills some faint hope into my cynical self that humans may eventually make it. Looks a bit too much like a Quixotic endeavour though. Oh, and they branded the holiday - I guess after all my clamouring I don't have to write out what I think about that ...

Red Nose Day (dunno da date)

Wear a red nose and donate money to fund research on sudden infant death syndrome.
If this holiday did not exist it would have to be invented. I loath this one with all my heart. You wear a red nose to show you are part of our stupid hedonistic circus and you make a small donation to clear your conscience. That about sums up what my culture is like.

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank my numerous editors here at K5. You improved the article quite some. What remains to be desired is certainly all my fault.

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Poll
What's your favorite holyday?
o Xmas/Easter 31%
o Sylvester/Carnival 9%
o Labour Day 2%
o Christopher Street Day 0%
o Valentines Day 0%
o Chaos Days 39%
o Geo Day of Biodiversity 12%
o Red Nose Day 4%

Votes: 41
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Fronleichn am
o Corpus Christi
o Day of
o German Unity
o Day of [2]
o Labour
o Love Parade
o Christophe r Street
o Day
o Valentines
o Day [2]
o Chaos
o Days
o Geo Day of
o Biodiversi ty
o National
o Geographic
o Red
o Nose
o Day
o Also by schrotie


Display: Sort:
My Holidays' Meanings | 96 comments (75 topical, 21 editorial, 0 hidden)
Ouch. You really don't understand those holidays. (4.28 / 7) (#4)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Apr 02, 2003 at 08:11:01 AM EST

Okay, I'm not going to run you down for this, but:

  • Corpus Christi - the point of that holiday is not to "worship the corpse of Christ". The point is to think about how this person, Christ, suffered for your behalf - exactly like a human shield at an Iraqi power plant today. (And, yes, I mean that. In Christian terms, all people are as corrupt and deserving of punishment as Hussein and his crowd, and Christ's willingness to suffer and die for us is (in Christian terms) an ideal we should aspire to.)
  • Easter is not meant to celebrate the death of Christ, but his rebirth - and the idea, too, that we will one day be reborn as he was. Easter is the "Welcome home, POWs" party that follows the war.
  • Christmas - well, frankly, Christmas is an excuse for a secular party, right back to it's original Roman roots. It has no theological significance whatsoever, which is why I don't freak about the "commercialization" of Christmas. In fact, Christmas has a lot more in common with New Year's than Easter.

For some of the others, could you expand a little? Carnival - I don't know how this works in Germany, does it occur 40 days before Easter (like Mardi Gras and Carnival in the New World?) In that case, it, like Mardi Gras was originally an attempt to get one last party in before you spent the next 40 days thinking about what a rotten person you are... As for Red Nose Day - I have got to get that idea started in my country! :-P One day a year, I get to wear my "real" face to work. :-P

BTW, I have to say your opinion of Valentine's Day is dead on...


--
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him go off the high dive.


Thanks (none / 0) (#5)
by schrotie on Wed Apr 02, 2003 at 08:29:28 AM EST

Thanks, I edited the article a bit. I hope it's more appropriate now.

Thorsten

[ Parent ]

hmm? (5.00 / 1) (#12)
by pb on Wed Apr 02, 2003 at 12:40:23 PM EST

Easter has a long Pagan tradition as well, as a fertility holiday; hence, the bunnies and the eggs and whatnot.

Also, I like the idea that Valentine's day comes from a corruption of the old French world "galantine", but really, who knows about that one...
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]

Easter != fertility ritual, exactly... (none / 0) (#13)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Apr 02, 2003 at 01:12:26 PM EST

Easter did adopt many of the old pagan symbols, as did Christmas, but is not a direct descendent of those pre-Christian festivals.


--
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him go off the high dive.


[ Parent ]
No. (5.00 / 1) (#14)
by pb on Wed Apr 02, 2003 at 02:42:54 PM EST

Sorry, it is a direct descendant of those Pagan religious observances; I suppose you could take away the Pagan name, the Pagan traditions, and the Pagan event (the vernal equinox), but then you'd be celebrating Passover, not Ostara...
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]
except for the messy detail (4.00 / 3) (#19)
by adequate nathan on Wed Apr 02, 2003 at 06:23:39 PM EST

I suppose you could take away the Pagan name, the Pagan traditions, and the Pagan event (the vernal equinox), but then you'd be celebrating Passover, not Ostara

...of theology and religion.

I'm guessing you've never been within five blocks of an Orthodox Church on Pascha.

Nathan
"For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
[ Parent ]

Yup. (3.75 / 4) (#22)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Apr 02, 2003 at 07:09:19 PM EST

pb definitely can't tell the difference between the symbol and the message...


--
Note that the depiction of the president as a deranged or Nazi paranoid is coming mostly from people who constantly tell us how passionately they
[ Parent ]

Okay, what fool gave Medham (5.00 / 2) (#24)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Apr 02, 2003 at 10:15:28 PM EST

trusted user status?


--
Note that the depiction of the president as a deranged or Nazi paranoid is coming mostly from people who constantly tell us how passionately they
[ Parent ]

-100000000 (2.00 / 6) (#6)
by tkatchev on Wed Apr 02, 2003 at 09:40:00 AM EST

Liberals suck.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.

It's a very interesting transition, holydays to... (4.80 / 5) (#9)
by porkchop_d_clown on Wed Apr 02, 2003 at 11:17:27 AM EST

Originally, the only "holidays" were the "holydays" but - as you say - Europe has transition more or less completely to a secular culture.

But how did this happen? I've heard it claimed that the transition occured within a single generation, but that seems hard to believe. What happened to make Germans "convert" while German-Americans still pack the Lutheran churches in America?


--
You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him go off the high dive.


German-Americans (3.00 / 1) (#30)
by MrLarch on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 05:07:26 AM EST

Those emmigrants knew when to get out.

[ Parent ]
Interesting reaction. (nt) (none / 0) (#46)
by MrLarch on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 12:08:03 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Nothing personal, but... (2.60 / 5) (#10)
by Edgy Loner on Wed Apr 02, 2003 at 12:16:32 PM EST

what's your problem? Is there something wrong with enjoying oneself? You seem to have a real issue with hedonism, why? Is it some religious thing? You seem really upset that not everybody has bought into the whole "life is but a vale of tears" mindset. If you want to build your life around that, fine, it's your deal. You don't get to screw other people's lives.
Fucking lighten up.

This is not my beautiful house.
This is not my beautiful knife.
For ghosh's sake! (4.33 / 3) (#17)
by tkatchev on Wed Apr 02, 2003 at 03:56:49 PM EST

He's German!

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

hedonism and happiness (5.00 / 3) (#21)
by khallow on Wed Apr 02, 2003 at 07:00:16 PM EST

what's your problem? Is there something wrong with enjoying oneself? You seem to have a real issue with hedonism, why? Is it some religious thing? You seem really upset that not everybody has bought into the whole "life is but a vale of tears" mindset. If you want to build your life around that, fine, it's your deal. You don't get to screw other people's lives.

Fucking lighten up.

K5 is rather fortunate in that I've never gotten around to scribbling my ten screen rant against hedonism. Given that hedonism is supposed to be the pursuit of pleasure, I find it odd how boring the actual game turns out to be. Have you ever considered that the original author is pursuing happiness in a different, unorthodox way?

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

My problem is (4.25 / 4) (#34)
by schrotie on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 07:41:29 AM EST

I gave a personal account of my perception of my culture. I find it inappropriate to be addressed with "Fucking lighten up" and such language. You are speaking in public. And you are giving another sad example of this very culture. Thank you for that. On the other hand, if I perform this kind of psychological striptease I probably don't deserve any better.

I'm not only screwing other people's life. That would be rather pathetic. Though it would illustrate another weakness of my culture: stunning arrogance. No, I said I'd write about my culture and that I did. I am a hedonist. That does not mean I have to praise hedonism though.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying oneself, as long as nobody else gets hurt in the process of achieving happiness. During the time it took me to write up the article a couple of thousands of children died by poverty. While I burnt enough ressources to sustain hundreds of them. I am burning not only their ressources but also the ressources of my own descendants. And while I whimper about the state of the world, my cousin culture embarks on a cultural crusade. My nation is one of the biggest weapons exporter. And so on.

Some 600 years ago my ancestors emerged from the cloaca of history and crushed every culture that stood in its way. We don't seem to have learned much from our history, we are still doing it. I am not refering to that stupid war, I am refering to the most efficient propaganda machine in history: Commercials. I am refering to the WTO, World bank and related politics. I am refering to my cultures unfailing arrogance. And finally to its said concept of happyness.

"Is it a religious thing?" Yes and no. I do not believe in some kind of deity or afterlife. I do not think Jesus was anything more or less than I am. I do value christian virtues though. Love, compassion, humility ... the world could use some more of that. My character has very religious traits though. I am a downright zealot. So if you feel comfortable putting me into your "religious" drawer, go ahead.

Evertime you laugh a child starves somewhere on this rotten ball. If that does not impede your concept of happyness you are lucky. No reason for atacking me though.

Thorsten

[ Parent ]

the resources of my own descendants (5.00 / 1) (#44)
by Meatbomb on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 10:57:15 AM EST

No need to worry about them.

They will have more wealth than you can possibly imagine. This is the way progress works, and your error of thinking is typical of many of today's environmentalists.

Just imagine some scribe sitting in a damp cellar 300 years ago, writing "I consume so much vellum and tallow, stealing the resources of my descendants - how will they ever survive?"

_______________

Good News for Liberal Democracy!

[ Parent ]

6th extinction (none / 0) (#56)
by schrotie on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 03:59:26 PM EST

We are facing the 6th exinction. The 6th mass extinction in geohistorical time. The last one wiped the dinosaurs out - besides many many other species.

Sure, our descendants 10,000,000 years from now won't miss the wealth because Gaya will have recovered by then - if our descendants survive the next 10,000,000 years that is. We don't even partly understand what we are destroying. And there's little chance that technology will bring all that back in the next millenium or so.

Or maybe we are facing dark ages again. I got a notion that our current system is a bit fragile. It is not completely absurd to think that the current world order could crash and suck our level of civilization into the whirl. It has happened before. If it happens now it will be faster and we'll hit the ground much harder than our ancestors.

This is the way history works, and your error of thinking is typical of many of today's technologists.

No, I don't think it will happen, but ignoring the possibility is plain dumb. But then: who ever learned from history?

Thorsten

[ Parent ]

Just imagine (5.00 / 4) (#81)
by Eloquence on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 07:49:33 PM EST

Some writer in Alexandria, 2000 years ago, thinking: In 500 years, what knowledge my children will have! It will be immeasurable! Everyone will be a scientist -- we could build flying machines and robots! Unfortunately, the Dark Ages happened, the Library of Alexandria was destroyed as were other symbols of "paganism", and libraries and schools became out of fashion until the Renaissance. The church retained control over most publications until the 19th century, and even today, its theology is still underlying much of our culture, whether we like it or not.

People at the beginning of the 20th century thought there would be no more wars, that civilization finally got its act together and would solve all problems through science and rational thinking. Then World War I happened. The Spanish Flu. The Great Depression. World War II. The Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Rwanda, you know the rest. The bloodiest century, ever.

It is a fallacy to consider tomorrow's problems solved by simply assuming technological progress. Technological progress only killed the victims of Auschwitz and of Hiroshima faster and in larger numbers. Scientific knowledge is worthless if not applied. Do you really think we do not have the technical means to solve world hunger, now? We had these means since the development of Haber-Bosch synthesis around 1910. During WW I the same Fritz Haber helped develop mustard gas and other chemical weapons. Wernher von Braun helped build the rockets that were sent to the moon -- and those that were sent to London. As Tom Lehrer put it: "Once ze rockets are up, who cares where they come down? That's not my department, says Wernher von Braun."

All of today's problems can be solved with today's, even with yesterday's technology. It's the distribution of wealth and its regulation that has prevented this from happening so far. Don't make the mistake to assume that history will always go in the right direction. Don't make the mistake to believe that even if we develop the technology to solve our problems, it will be distributed fairly and used for the right purposes.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!
[ Parent ]

Go drown your sorrows in moments of pleasure (5.00 / 3) (#49)
by tang gnat on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 02:37:33 PM EST

At first it might be fun, but eventually you absorb it into your lifestyle. It becomes routine, boring, and addictive. You slowly spiral down into a selfish worthless life, not caring about anything other than getting your next fix of something that used to be fun. You hate your job but it is necessary to fund your life.

I am happy that I've avoided the fate of a zombie.

[ Parent ]

Rotten Culture ? (4.50 / 2) (#20)
by OldCoder on Wed Apr 02, 2003 at 06:53:37 PM EST

There's a limit to how rotten your culture could be. After all, it created you.

--
By reading this signature, you have agreed.
Copyright © 2003 OldCoder
Lol (none / 0) (#29)
by schrotie on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 04:16:53 AM EST

I wonder how you thought about that if you knew me personally :-)
Actually I think everything is not that bad. When I act off my cynism I become a hopeless optimist. And I think my culture if full of stunning potential. We are just going through a difficult transition phase.

Thorsten

[ Parent ]

Public holidays are a violation of human rights (2.50 / 4) (#23)
by duncan bayne on Wed Apr 02, 2003 at 09:50:45 PM EST

A Government has to initiate force against its citizens in order to enforce public holidays.  All forms of leave should be negotiable between employers and employees.

They interfere with production. (4.00 / 1) (#58)
by Dr Caleb on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 04:11:52 PM EST

The Government has to initiate force against honest companies to in order to give snivelling workers one day off every month or so. Employees should never need time off, the ungrateful sobs should be happy they have a job at all.

We would make them sleep in the back room on an old sofa if we could, so their travel time doesn't cut into our profits and their productivity.


Baroque: [Bar-oak] (adj.) (s.) ; What you are when you have no Monet.

There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

umpf (4.25 / 4) (#28)
by fhotg on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 04:14:31 AM EST

Firstly, your description of Xmas, Easter, Carnival, M is too one-dimensional. The Christian meaning was put on these holidays (=resons to party) very late in history. They actually are religion-independent and mark physically observable singularities in the course of the seasons.

At least Carnival happens very differently than you describe it, with clear pagan references, in southern Germany.

There are also various locally varying ways to celebrate Mayday, and many do have nothing to do with "Labour Day" (comp. the very alife tradition of "Maienstecken").

Love Parade is a holiday for the people from Berlin in the sense that they, particularly those who care for electronic music and/or the "rave scene", _leave the city. Loveparade these days is a touristic event to milk the most stupid of USian, Japanese etc.

I have never heard of "Red Nose day". You made that on up.

ompf (none / 0) (#31)
by schrotie on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 07:06:43 AM EST

As I said I was arbitrarily picking holidays. I left out other flavours of May Day because I never saw it being celebated. I do not live in the south.ybr> The article is not supposed to be a history lesson on ancient holiday customs and concepts. I wanted to give an account of what they mean to me - as I said in the introduction. If other people do that too - rather then whining about my sentiments about their holidays - we might get an interesting picture: through the comments rather than through the article. I hoped to start something interesting. Looks like I failed.

I have never heard of "Red Nose day". You made that on up.
No, it's real. A british import.

Thorsten

[ Parent ]

May Day (none / 0) (#36)
by Chep on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 08:04:15 AM EST

another one: in France, J.M. Le Pen (no relationship to Strasbourg's football player I've heard) chose this date to make a nationalistic celebration/rally;  this includes long marches towards a statue of Joan of Arc (whose holiday is not may 1st), occasional brawls with riot police and/or the extreme lefties, sometimes they push the celebration up to drown one or two immigrant-looking bystanders in the Seine river.

I saw traces of the red noses stuff here, but I don't know what's the intended purpose, season or sponsors.

Hey schrotie, I like this article and its tone a lot!

--

Our Constitution ... is called a democracy because power is in the hands not of a minority but of the greatest number.
Thucydide II, 37


[ Parent ]

motz (none / 0) (#39)
by fhotg on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 08:54:44 AM EST

Ok, you say you describe what they mean to you, but most of the descriptions actually sound like history lecture or a generally valid contemporary description. I like idea of the topic though. Maybe should have been more personal in the sense that you describe what you're actually doing on these days. Anyways, hoping this will be the trigger for interesting comments, I'll vote it up.

[ Parent ]
Red Nose Day (none / 0) (#95)
by x31eq on Tue Apr 08, 2003 at 09:45:25 AM EST

Yes, it's real, and it's British. It's run by Comic Relief as a way of raising money for charity. They always pick a Friday, probably the best television audience.

[ Parent ]
I've always been uncomfortable (5.00 / 4) (#38)
by werner on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 08:39:13 AM EST

with the fact that Karnival in Germany starts at the same time as Rememberence Day in the UK.

11/11 is when WWI stopped, and in the UK we all wear poppies and everything stops for 1 minute at 11 am. It's not as extreme as it used to be - even the trains used to stop for one minute - but it's still pretty poignant.

Now, every 11th Nov at 11am, some German pops open a bottle of Sekt in front of me. I know it shouldn't, but this offends me.

One other difference in German and UK holidays is what happens if the holiday falls midweek or at the weekend. In Germany, the holiday is always on the specified date - if it falls on a weekend and you don't normally work at the weekend, you effectively lose the holiday. As a result, Germans love to take "Brückentage": if Thursday is a public holiday, you book Friday off and this is a Brückentag. Some companies give all employees these Brückentage off, making them work 10 minutes longer a day for the rest of the year. In the UK, public holidays are often shifted to a Monday; any public holidays falling on a weekend are carried over to the start of the next week. This way, an Englishman has the same number of public holidays every year, while a German does not.

I still haven't decided whether I like the idea of Brückentage or moving to a Monday better.

My boss (none / 0) (#43)
by Meatbomb on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 10:49:13 AM EST

Likes to play this game:

If there is a holiday on a weekday, and it will mean cancelling one of my classes, we shift that class to Tuesday, my normal day off.



_______________

Good News for Liberal Democracy!

[ Parent ]

what a bastard (none / 0) (#83)
by werner on Sat Apr 05, 2003 at 04:51:56 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Best argument I heard once in this type of debates (4.00 / 3) (#40)
by pakje on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 09:43:36 AM EST

The country where I live in is getting more and more multicultural, and for some religions, not the sunday, but another day is the rest-day of the week. And there are also highly religious holidays like chineese newyear and ramadam. Those people wanted the national holidays to be changed. But the best argument was that the holidays of the religion of the queen will be respected in this country.

lol +1 fp (2.22 / 9) (#42)
by circletimessquare on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 10:21:56 AM EST

europeans' emotional baseline has always seemed to me to be self-pity and depression.

and this post goes hand-in-hand with my impressions.

are there any empty headed cheerful europeans out there?

why do they all seem to be intellectual versions of edvard munch's "the scream"?

do any europeans make it out of the bile-filled self-loathing teenage cynical phase of life?


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

Very interesting (4.42 / 7) (#45)
by BushidoCoder on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 11:30:41 AM EST

A good read, I loved it.

I do have to say, from the tone of your article, I get the feeling that if American's weren't around for you guys to hate, you'd quickly dissolve into a system of self violence. Did the clash of the strong German traditional culture and the American pop culture injected into your jugular during the Cold War really fuck you up this much? If so, I'm sorry, and I highly recommend that you go back to hating the French like the US and the UK do; It's really a fantastic way to vent, and nothing says punching bag like a good Frenchman.

\bc

It wasn't the Americans (4.66 / 3) (#50)
by schrotie on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 02:45:19 PM EST

It wasn't Americas fault. We Germans did not need any help in destroying our culture. In our glorious quest to subvert everything nongerman we succeeded surprisingly well in destroying our culture. The US pop culture was just there at the right time to fill the void.

Germany has lost most of its folk music, its tales, the traditional songs and most importantly its self-esteem. We murdered most of our interlectuals and artist and drove the rest into exile. And maybe the meaning of some holidays. For a change this was not Americas fault.

Cheers

Thorsten

[ Parent ]

Still feel guilty (5.00 / 3) (#59)
by BushidoCoder on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 05:35:44 PM EST

I grew up in Europe, the child of an Army soldier. I remember during the mid-80s, the fascination I had with the little things; The candlelit walks entire towns would do in early December. The Christmas markets, and all the open walking markets that I haven't found in the US. I loved the little differences in the way we celebrated Holidays.

There was this great place on the corner where you could get a paper cone the size of your head of triple-fried fries for 2 Marks. You could sit down and have the best schnitzel in the world, overlooking a soccer field where every night the local teams were out playing. I went back a couple years ago, cuz I really missed those fries. The place was gone, and there was a Pizza Hut.

America is a huge pot of individual cultures, and as a result we have no strong common culture outside our pop culture. I can live with that, because I believe deep down that American society is the only way you can get varied people from around the globe, some of whom are traditional enemies of some of the other American cultures, to all get along and function as a society. America's only true, traditional culture is the American Indian culture, which we pretty exhaustively destroyed. It kind of makes me sad on one level when I see American franchises dominating the streetsides in Frankfurt, Rome or Tokyo. I don't blame my fellow Americans for that - We would sell our shit there if you didn't want it - but it makes me sad nonetheless.

\bc

[ Parent ]

but (5.00 / 1) (#66)
by livus on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 07:15:55 PM EST

really that's how culture develops - today's high culture and folk culture is last century's pop-culture. (Take the opera for example).

Just think, 100 years from now all sorts of genuine cultural expressions will have sprung up in your country around McDonalds or George Bush's war. It's already happening with Elvis.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

No, keep Celine Dion.... (none / 0) (#68)
by loucura on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 09:45:05 PM EST

We don't want her.

[ Parent ]
think how much better she'd be without her tongue (none / 0) (#80)
by livus on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 05:13:10 PM EST

surely that's the best reason for extradition. If she was in my clutches, don't think she'd be releasing bad covers of Roy Orbison songs. She wouldn't be. And Sharon and Bush wouldnt be releasing bad covers of Addy Hitler, either.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
LatSE (none / 0) (#48)
by Bartab on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 02:36:35 PM EST

Laugh at the Silly Euros eon, started in 1940, shall never end.

--
It is wrong to judge people on the basis of skin color or gender; therefore affirmative action shall be implemented: universities and employers should give preference to people based on skin color and gender.

Interestingly odd view (5.00 / 3) (#51)
by TygerStar on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 02:49:59 PM EST

Although this piece is not very meaty and at times unclear, the goal behind it is worthy of attention.  I've often wondered what other nations believed and how they celebrated (or not) the holidays.  Especially, if they've screwed up the meanings as much!

What holiday comes two weeks after Christmas? Epiphany?  The whole christmas paragraph is very confusing and unclear to me.  

Easter is a much more important holy day than Christmas.  Christianity is not about the birth of Christ, but about his Rebirth and the promise of ascension.  Almost every aspect of christianity revolves around sin, saving souls, and/or getting to heaven.  

In the early days of Christianity, new converts were required to study for one year which ended with Lent.  Lent was a period of intense preparation for the baptism which only occurred at Easter and was an initiation into the inner rituals and communion.

During american colonial times, Christmas was hardly recognized and you could be stoned and banished for having a christmas tree.  However, theologically, speaking the birth of christ is important and does have meaning- if he isn't born then he can't be reborn and save everyone.  

Each gift represented specific things, which I can't remember off the top of my head.  I continue this tradition in my family, with giving my children only 3 gifts, however I have been toying with the idea of giving a gift representative of each element.  But that is another story.

Chaos Day is very similiar to the Italians Saturnalia festival, where all kinds of tom-foolery took place.  There are other similiar festivals in most cultures.  One such festival turned the tables on the nobles and servants, i.e. the servants became teh nobles for the day and the nobles had to to wait on them.  This was in recognition of the work the servants did for the nobles.

Christmas tree is a pagan symbol, and (none / 0) (#52)
by lukme on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 03:24:10 PM EST

The timing of christmas was changed. The orthodox christmas comes later usually in january.


-----------------------------------
It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
[ Parent ]
Christ's birthday (none / 0) (#55)
by TygerStar on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 03:50:13 PM EST

There is alot of controversy over when Christ was actually born.  But it is agreed by most everyone that his birthday was moved to be at the same time as the pagan god's birth.  

[ Parent ]
...or at least... (3.50 / 2) (#86)
by gidds on Sat Apr 05, 2003 at 02:51:53 PM EST

...to the time of some existing pagan festival.

But as a Christian, this doesn't bother me.  I've heard various suggestions for the actual date of Christ's birth (there's a good one for late August/early September), but it doesn't matter that Christmas isn't the actual anniversary - that's just when we choose to celebrate it.  After all, if the Queen has an official birthday as well as a natural one, why can't the Lord himself?!

Andy/
[ Parent ]

Julian calendar drifted (4.50 / 2) (#72)
by Chep on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 12:45:05 AM EST

The Orthodox Church celebrates Christmas on December 25th of the Julian Calendar (which drifted away, because it lacked the once-every century-but-not-all-centuries leap day correction). On the Gregorian Calendar, this falls on January 6th (since year 1900 and until year 2100), but this is a coincidence.

(note that some Russian Orthodox emigrate churches in Western Europe apply an odd rule, which is that fixed date holidays (Christmas etc.) are celebrated on the Gregorian calendar, while mobile holidays are celebrated based on the Julian-computed date of Easter.
I don't remember offhand what the Greeks are doing [Julian, Mixed or Gregorian calendar])

--

Our Constitution ... is called a democracy because power is in the hands not of a minority but of the greatest number.
Thucydide II, 37


[ Parent ]

Dates (none / 0) (#76)
by TygerStar on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 10:22:36 AM EST

Ahh, interesting.  If Christmas falls on Jan 6th for the Gregorian, does Epiphany then happen on Jan 20th?  

In my message, I was referring to the controversy of Christ being born in the spring not in the dead of winter.  

[ Parent ]

IIRC, yes (5.00 / 2) (#78)
by Chep on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 11:05:01 AM EST

IIRC, it's indeed a 13 day offset for all fixed holidays, so unless there is a theological reason to set Epiphany to something else than Jan 6 Julian, it should indeed fall on Jan 20 Gregorian for the churches which follow pure Julian rule. (I must admit I'm a wee bit rusty on that :-) ).
(on the subject of the individual saints' holiday, there are usually wide disparities between the Catholic and Orthodox churches, even for the saints which both churches recognise (pre-1053). What's approximately identical is the major holidays only)

It's more complex for Easter-indexed holidays, since the New Moon which follows March 21st is not always the same whether you are following the Julian or Gregorian calendars. Some years, both Easters are the same day, some years the delta can add up to 4 weeks. This year it looks like there is a one week offset only (Orthodox Easter being on April 14 Julian / 27 Gregorian, instead of April 20 elsewhere).

Also, about the controversy, I remember being taught that the smallest day of the year used to be December 25th during the early Byzantine era. Thus, the symbol of the Christ's birthday marking also the beginning of more lightful days. Then, calendar technology being what it used to be, the actual equinox/solstice days drifted to the 21st of the relevant months (it sure is that a vintage 2003 AthlonXP beats an Eighth Century monk hands down when it comes to do heavy-duty computations. Not that computing stuff has ever been monks' purpose in life, of course).

--

Our Constitution ... is called a democracy because power is in the hands not of a minority but of the greatest number.
Thucydide II, 37


[ Parent ]

Equniox dates (5.00 / 2) (#93)
by TygerStar on Mon Apr 07, 2003 at 11:35:51 AM EST

Actually, the equinox/solstice happens anywhere from the 20th to the 23rd. Equinoxes are the days when light and dark are equal and the Solstice is the first day one is more than the other. The difference in light and dark on the Solstice is minimal and it can be several days before people could actually tell the difference. In pre-Christian times, the Winter Solstice was celebrated as the birth of the local sun god because it was the return of the sun. Almost all villages had their own gods for everything back then `;~)

[ Parent ]
Three Kings (5.00 / 1) (#53)
by schrotie on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 03:36:23 PM EST

What holiday comes two weeks after Christmas?
Don't know the english name. The translation of the German version is: Holy Three Kings. 6th of January I think. As far as know this is the day where gifts are given for example in Spain.

Thorsten

[ Parent ]

Jan 6th holiday (5.00 / 2) (#54)
by TygerStar on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 03:47:37 PM EST

yep that would be Epiphany: Epiphany is traditionally celebrated on January 6th marking the arrival of the Magi in search of the Christ child.  "Epiphany" is a Greek word meaning "appearance".  The coming of the Magi marks the time when God is manifested on Earth to the entire world through Jesus Christ.

I'm not sure this is celebrated much in America.  I know the Episcopalians recognize it, though.

[ Parent ]

November 11. (5.00 / 3) (#57)
by Dr Caleb on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 04:06:37 PM EST

It's the only holiday that means anything to me.

In Canada it's called Remeberance Day, it celebrates the end of World War I. In the US they call it 'Veterans Day' But I believe that falls in a different month.

To me, it's to remember the people who have served their countries, and honour those that have died for their countries. It's the only one that involves my freedom, my liberties and my life. Perhaps it's just because I've served, or that I'm not a very good Christian, perhaps I'm just disillusioned by all the marketing over what used to be a serious holiday such as Easter of Christmas.

Some places, mostly out east don't give people the day off. Rather, they give them an extra day in December, around Christmas. I refuse to work on November 11th. I have it written into my contracts where applicable that I get November 11th off regardless of whether a major project is happening or if it's inconvenient for management.

It's not a 'day off' ethier. I get up early, put on my dress uniform, and assemble for the march at 8:00. We march to the cenotaph, and if lucky I will be picked as one of the honour guards. (Standing perfectly still for over an hour isn't as easy as one might think.) Taps is played at 11:11 (on 11/11). The ceremony is over by 11:30, and we march back to the Legion. Then we do the boys proud, with a good old fasioned 'wake'. Usually I'm loaded by 13:00, and stay that way until 02:00 11/12.

It's the way the boys would have wanted it.


Baroque: [Bar-oak] (adj.) (s.) ; What you are when you have no Monet.

There is no K5 cabal.

No, same day in the U.S. (none / 0) (#61)
by epepke on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 05:48:59 PM EST

And it used to be called Armistice day, because the WWI armistice was signed on that day, at 11:11.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Actually (none / 0) (#71)
by Chep on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 12:37:47 AM EST

it wasn't signed at 11:11, rather, a couple of hours earlier. It came into force at that hour indeed.

(and in case you wonder, yes there were quite a few fatalities between the moment of signature and the enforcement. Foch was rushing to reclaim by force as much ground as possible to make sure the Germans wouldn't try to cheat on the armistice terms)

Once the Remembrance duties are performed, 11/11 (and May 8th) are great days to cross the Rhine and invade the Freiburg-im-Brisgau Wal-Mart to buy stuff which isn't available on this side's supermarkets (or way cheaper, like CDR blanks)

--

Our Constitution ... is called a democracy because power is in the hands not of a minority but of the greatest number.
Thucydide II, 37


[ Parent ]

Marine special holiday too? (none / 0) (#77)
by TygerStar on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 10:29:50 AM EST

Isn't this also the Marine's special holiday?  Both my brother and my father are Marines, but I can't remember exactly.  Something about it being the day the branch was formed I think.  I'll have to email them.  

[ Parent ]
As the start of Carnival season (5.00 / 1) (#82)
by scruffyMark on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 09:40:54 PM EST

I was in Cologne on 11/11 at 11:11 for the start of the carnival, and it seemed nobody was aware of the significance of the date. At least nobody around me was aware of the armistice coming into effect at that date. I found it somewhat distressing, in fact

There was a pantomime going on, songs & whatnot, minor local celebrities in (presumably traditional) funny costumes. At one point, they got all serious and said something about the significance of the date, but I don't think anyone much heard it over the merry din in the square.

[ Parent ]

Rememberance Holidays in the U.S. (5.00 / 1) (#89)
by rickwood on Sun Apr 06, 2003 at 05:35:39 PM EST

In the U.S. we have what we call Veteran's Day on 11/11. From m-w.com:
November 11 set aside in commemoration of the end of hostilities in 1918 and 1945 and observed as a legal holiday in the U.S. to honor the veterans of the armed forces
Note that this holiday specifically honors all veterans of the U.S. armed forces, not just those lost in battle.

We also have a holiday on the last Monday in May called Memorial Day. This holiday specifically honors U.S. war dead.

At least here in the Southeastern part of the U.S., we also have Confederate Memorial Day, to honor those from the South who fell during the U.S. Civil War. If you're a U.S. Civil War buff, the link to UGA above is worth following to find out more about Confederate Memorial Day.

[ Parent ]

Out East? (none / 0) (#94)
by adrizk on Mon Apr 07, 2003 at 12:47:51 PM EST

I don't know where you're writing from, but here in Ottawa all the public servants get the day off, but almost no-one else does - this of course in the nation's Capital, of all places. This is despite almost overwhelming support of having Rememberance day be a holiday, even at the expense of another day off.

This has always bothered me, (and, I suppose, a lot of other people), though most people do at least take an hour or two to attend the 11th hour ceremonies. I even remember many times in university when I had classes - even tests - scheduled for 11 AM on November 11th.



[ Parent ]
I'm in Edmonton... (none / 0) (#96)
by Dr Caleb on Tue Apr 08, 2003 at 10:24:28 AM EST

but I have some friends that work in the Metro Toronto area. They aren't given Nov 11 off. Instead they get a paid day off on the February 'Civic' holiday or an extra day around Christmas.

It's not very widespread, but disturbing nonetheless.


Vive Le Canada - For Canadians who give a shit about their country.

There is no K5 cabal.
[ Parent ]

write in vote (4.00 / 1) (#60)
by tetsuwan on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 05:40:30 PM EST

March 25

International waffle day

The day to empty all your odd jam jars and get stuffed on waffles and whipped cream!

Wooohhoooo (none / 0) (#75)
by Wafel on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 07:36:23 AM EST

Respect and recognition at last!!!!!!! :-D
-- Wafel
[ Parent ]
March 8th (5.00 / 2) (#62)
by bugmaster on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 06:42:21 PM EST

The International Women's Day. Despite the name, celebrated only in the Soviet Union. The idea here is that you're supposed to honor women by giving them flowers, etc. -- though women don't get the day off.
>|<*:=
I should hope not! (none / 0) (#64)
by livus on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 07:10:46 PM EST

56% of them are in the paid workforce internationally speaking, and in places like North America more than 45% of the workforce is female.*

So if they all got the day off it would be chaos!

*Harvard School Of Pubic Health

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]

It's celebrated in the Soviet Union? (none / 0) (#65)
by Eater on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 07:11:56 PM EST

So I take it the whole no-more-USSR thing was just a ploy to get the West to let down its guard (say, by invading a small Middle Eastern country)?

Eater.

[ Parent ]
It's even worse! (none / 0) (#88)
by Viliam Bur on Sun Apr 06, 2003 at 11:15:10 AM EST

Now I realised that Slovakia has become a part of USSR, because we celebrate the Women Day too.

Help, it still exists and it is growing!

[ Parent ]

Not only in USSR? (none / 0) (#70)
by Chep on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 12:33:08 AM EST

You'll tell me it's the same thing, but I rememeber there is a Women's Day in France sometime in March.

--

Our Constitution ... is called a democracy because power is in the hands not of a minority but of the greatest number.
Thucydide II, 37


[ Parent ]

No. (none / 0) (#73)
by tkatchev on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 03:50:46 AM EST

It's an official holiday, so everybody gets the day off -- not just the men.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

interesting though lacks analysis (none / 0) (#63)
by livus on Thu Apr 03, 2003 at 07:00:30 PM EST

Im voting for you because it's an interesting article.

But I don't think that "our hedonistic society" is really providing any adequate explanation. I'd have liked it a lot more if you'd at least attempted to analyse in some detail why the majority of people celebrate the festival in this way whilst still using the traditional framework.

---
HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

The misc. religious holidays (5.00 / 2) (#74)
by Quila on Fri Apr 04, 2003 at 04:38:29 AM EST

As an American in Germany, I'm always amazed that different states have various little religious holidays, most of which are known to the German people as "I get a day off" and nothing more.  Fronleichnam is only one of many.

You can go from your state to another for business, and find that things are closed because it's the day Christ took his first dump or something. It's insane.

And add Halloween to the unofficial ones. It's starting to get more popular.

Religion (none / 0) (#85)
by hughk on Sat Apr 05, 2003 at 01:59:08 PM EST

Some states are catholic (mostly in the South) and some are protestant (mostly in the north). Each gets its own quota of holidays depending upon the dominant religion. Generally, Catholic states are better off because they celebrate more public holidays.

[ Parent ]
That was obvious (none / 0) (#91)
by Quila on Mon Apr 07, 2003 at 04:23:06 AM EST

When I moved from Bremen to Heidelberg (Baden-Wuerttemberg). I can only imagine the shock if I'd moved to Bavaria.


[ Parent ]
Yom Kippur (5.00 / 2) (#84)
by jethro on Sat Apr 05, 2003 at 09:16:13 AM EST

Note: I am not religious, but I did grow up in Israel (thus a very Jewish-like environemnt).

Many people know this as perhaps the strictest holiday in Jewish tradition. It translates literally as "Day of Atonement". You're supposed to spend the day fasting, praying and contemplating the past year . Leading up to Yom Kippur, you're supposed to have apologised to people for all your Earthly sins (the sins between you and God, you'd better pray very hard).

On this day God decided whether you live or die the following year. It's a very, very solemn day.

Except that, in Israel, children think it's a "Children's Holiday", a happy occasion for all kids. Reason being, virtually nobody drives on that day, so kids ride their bikes all over the streets. If you DO drive, you have to go very slow or you'll hit a bunch of kids (this usually happens), and kids have been known to toss stones at cars for violating their holiday.

Also, it's a semi tradition for highly orhodox jewish people to toss stones at the few cars that are driving (usually due to an emergency) and cause accidents.

Anyway, if you want a holiday that's celebrated way differently than how it was intended, can't get much further than this one.

--
In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is kinky.

Our holidays (5.00 / 2) (#87)
by dzimmerm on Sun Apr 06, 2003 at 06:13:33 AM EST

My wife did this page, not sure if she has kept it up but it is worth a quick look.

http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~maggieoh/Holidays/h1index.html

Good Day to You!

dzimmerm

cool! clickable link: (5.00 / 1) (#92)
by schrotie on Mon Apr 07, 2003 at 07:19:36 AM EST

holidays

[ Parent ]
HolidaysI (5.00 / 1) (#90)
by I Robot on Sun Apr 06, 2003 at 09:52:58 PM EST

I am a Jehovah's Witness. We observe only the Memorial of Jesus' last meal (April 16 this year, but varies each year ... Nisan 14 on the Jewish calendar). It isn't actually a celebration ... just an observance. This is the only observance that Jesus actually commanded his followers to commemorate. For the month or so prior to the Memorial, we study (at some depth) the events that lead to that evening and the rush of events that followed it. The clockwork precision with which events interlinked to produce the prophesied result (literal death followed by literal resurrection a few days later) is pretty convincing.

The rest of the 'holidays' mean only a paid day off (if even that much). I have sympathy for those who get stressed out 'celebrating' the other holidays. It is incredibly expensive to 'do' Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving or even Halloween. So few of them have any real basis for observance to begin with yet are laden with impossible expectations. Jehovah's Witnesses simply gather for a couple hours and then adjourn to each others homes or nearby restaurants for dinner and socializing. If we want to buy family or friends a gift, we do so. But we don't wait for a particular day ... we see something, decide to buy it and present it at the first convenient moment. JW kids never know when they might get a bicycle, JW wives never know when to expect an evening out. They just happen as the mood strikes and the opportunity allows.

My Holidays' Meanings | 96 comments (75 topical, 21 editorial, 0 hidden)
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