Christmas not just religious holiday, but tradition

I hear them silver bells ringing, and the bright snow’s glistening shroud can be seen on the distant horizon. That’s right, the Christmas holiday nexus has arrived. This, of course, includes all wintry festivities from tacky sweater parties to all additional excuses to drink eggnog, and believe me, they are plenty. But alas, along with this glorious arrival comes the derogatory remarks that by hosting such other secular activities in the name of this religious holiday, we are in fact demeaning its true value. I argue not so.

The United States was founded on many principles, some of which were established firmly in the Constitution and the rest established in the various amendments that followed. But of these, none would compare to the right to celebrate. Americans love to cheer, be prideful and boast of accomplishments. The Fourth of July, V-Day, Memorial Day and Veterans Day are all examples of either victorious battles or are based strongly in reverence, respect and honor toward those who helped to maintain these principles in our fair country.

Many of these men and women were English descendants of the great colonial estates. But many were Irish immigrants, once oppressed during the Industrial Revolution and forced to overwork themselves in the mires of factories, many from the age of adolescence until an unfortunate accident or sheer exhaustion resulted in their death. Others could claim slaves as their ancestors, and still others were immigrants from the Eastern world.

Along with these arrivals came customs from foreign lands, often not understood or misinterpreted. However, the composition of the United States became one regarded, according to the famous metaphor, as a “melting pot.” When this sloppy analogy was later changed to a “mixed salad,” people were even more befuddled. The simple fact remains that there are a lot of different people in this nation, some here originally (the oft-forgotten Native Americans), and everyone else was an immigrant. Now, with diversity often comes conflict, and so traditions of unity were created. These ranged from small community gatherings to demonstrations against the government or an organization, but the key component to all of these was the unifying capability of each. And thus, we have the importance of holidays.

Certainly, Christmas has a rightful place to be revered for its importance as a Christian holiday, celebrating the birth of Jesus. But, as with most things in the United States, capitalism has reared its head, and commercialism has seen the possibilities for profit. And so we have Halloween (origins anyone?), and Valentine’s Day and Thanksgiving and all sorts of holidays whose original purpose, for the general populace, may now be misconstrued a little bit.

But that is OK. They are traditions. The smell of cedar and the cool autumn breeze knocking the leaves off of trees all compliment this cozy atmosphere. People love the holidays and the seasonal sentiment they embody.

Thanksgiving is a chance to gather, as is Christmas. Halloween is an opportunity to leave inhibitions behind,to relive one’s childhood and to eat lots of candy. As for Valentine’s Day, opinions are usually mixed, so we’ll leave it alone. The point resides in the fact that, yes, Christmas does unfortunately have a market in the current era. But we must examine the positive role it reinforces in society. People become more caring, donations to homeless shelters increase exponentially, families put aside differences and reside together again, if but for a few days. Traditions are greatly loved and appreciated, some for religious purposes and some not, but they are loved by all.

Matt Boaz is a senior political science major from Edmond, Okla.