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about religious holidays

I was going to do this in a voice post... However, I am out of voice posts; so I am doing it as text.

As I have been reading blogs last night and this morning, I have seen gazillions of Halloween posts, which of course reminded me of what today is. I also saw a number of posts from the Pagans on my list; and I must admit to feeling a bit of empathy for them. One person was asking for people's thoughts about her desire to take the day off for religious reasons but feeling that people would think that she just wanted off because it was Halloween... I was too sleep-deprived to respond at the moment when I originally read the post, but I've been thinking about this a lot in light of some of my own rumblings about religious holidays in the past...

The saddest thing in my mind is the fact that the culture at large has deemphasized the true significance of so many holidays so much so that anyone celebrating these various holidays with any sincerity has a difficult time. Even Christmas feels "secularized" in many ways--I've written about it in past entries--and it truly would not bother me to work on Christmas. Many people do have to work on Good Friday and Easter; and I wonder how many Jews who are employed in non-Jewish settings have to work their holidays because Jewish holidays are never given a thought... I know that in Jewish circles, things shut down completely for certain holidays. I know nothing at all about Muslim practices... In my biblical studies, I learn that feast days were instituted for the sake of enabling remembrance and setting the Jewish people apart. But what do you do when your feast days have been overrun and adulterated and you are no longer set apart when you celebrate?

I think about this a lot... I don't worship for the sake of recognition; but I do need space to worship. It is not the day or date that matters as much as the fact that I do worship. In fact, there are some instances in the Old Testament where feast days were celebrated at off times due to circumstances not allowing for the normal feasting times, etc. So it seems to me that God is one who understands when the heart is in the right place and the circumstances will not bend. In fact, when Jesus was criticized for healing a man on the Sabbath, he said, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."

So if I was to have responded regarding the issue of whether or not to take off a day for the purpose of celebration of a holiday, I would have said that regardless of religious beliefs it should only be done if you are obligated to perform the celebration and there is not an alternate manner for doing it. Especially when the day is tied up with cultural issues where people commonly perceive things differently from what they are, I would not recommend it. Thanksgiving and Christmas present very similar problems, as does Easter... Easter is a very heavy time of church stuff for me; but for a lot of people it is just a good time for long weekend, egg hunt for the kids, and lots of food. Amazingly, my university does not close for Thursday even though there are often religious services on Thursday evenings and many students would like to go home for them--and this is a Christian university.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 31st, 2007 05:27 pm (UTC)
I totally disagree. For some people who work full time that is the only way they can pray as they need to. Some ceremonies cannot be done in the two hours one might devote to church. Sundance for example, lasts four days from sunup to sundown and involves fasting which people would need to recover from. Some ceremonies must be done when the moon is full, on the equinox, when a certain fruit or plant is ripe, and so on. When one devotes their life to prayer I think one must find a way to make it a priority, whatever that means.
Oct. 31st, 2007 05:40 pm (UTC)
I think Christianity is a bit different in that most holidays don't involve exact timing. For example; I doubt that Jesus was born on December 25.
Equinoxs on the other hand, need to be celebrated on equinox; the date of the equinox is not rellavant-- what is important is the equil amount of day and night. Sulstis is the longest day or night and certain rituals need to be done on those exact days. New and full moon rituals and workings need to be done on those days only and the day before or after doesn't count; not if you want to harness the energy of the moon at it's fullest. for example.

Easter and Christmas are automatically given off in most places. I think that Samhain is just as important to a Pagan as Christmas or Easter is to a Christian and I think it's perfectly OK to take the day off if you have planned ahead and are not slacking your responsibilities.

I couldn't take it off because I needed to be here to teach, but if I could have switched things around, I would have done so.
Oct. 31st, 2007 08:04 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the perspectives. Most places do give Christmas and Easter off as a matter of course; however, there are Christians who work in jobs that require them to work on those days and on surrounding days in which related events are celebrated,, and they don't get off. Sadly, many blue collar workers don't get to do anything involving corporate worship at all. Despite the adage that one can worship God just as well at home, for many Christians corporate gatherings are very much a part of the worship experience.

Anyway, I appreciate the perspective...
Oct. 31st, 2007 05:40 pm (UTC)
I wish that places that give paid holidays had a system where, at the beginning of the year (for example), the employee could indicate which holidays s/he wanted to take. SO, maybe they designate that we all take off days like the fourth of July and Labor day, but other than that, we could each decide how to use our other allotted holidays.

That way, each person would have the time to celebrate their specific days and, I would think, that it would make for more efficient offices because the office could be open more days with a happier work force.

In some cases, I really need my celebration to be at night because I like to have them in the light of the moon, so I can easily do it outside of my regular work hours but it makes it hard to get to work the next day!!

I like your practical approach to it.
Oct. 31st, 2007 08:07 pm (UTC)
a neat idea
Now that would be a nice idea. I know that some federal agencies do this and there can be a bit of competition for popular days... But I think it is a very creative solution.
Nov. 1st, 2007 12:10 am (UTC)
I really disagree with what you have said here. If a Christian were to request Christmas Day off of work, that would be perfectly understandable. No one would gossip about them. No one would threaten them.

However, if I emailed my professor and told him that I wasn't coming to class because today is a religious holiday, I would then be obligated to share my religious beliefs with him, which is frowned upon. So, if Pagans do take their Sabbats off of work and/or school, it must be done in secrecy.

While I do not agree with the secularization of so many holidays, I have to say that it is because they have been so secularized that it is acceptable for people to want holidays like Christmas and Easter off. Imbolc, which not many people, outside of the Pagan community are familiar with, would be more difficult to get off. Again, a lot of explaining would have to be done, which could have repercussions.

Could I celebrate Samhain tomorrow, or on the weekend? Not really. I need to do it tonight, for the veil is thin, and we are bound by ttiming to perform many of our rites. As long as one prepares to take the time off, and does not shirk responsibilities to do so, I really see nothing wrong with doing so.
Nov. 1st, 2007 12:15 am (UTC)
Very well said.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )


Sarah Blake LaRose
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