As demonstrated elsewhere, people have gotten 'upset' about wishing well to others on various holidays that are associated with a particular religion.

Let us look at three holidays of the Christian faith that are celebrated by many more than the faithful of the various branches of Christianity.


Of those that set up a Christmas tree and put socks up over the fireplace, how many call themselves Christian? Probably a fair number - though as my co-worker can attest to, he is an atheist and his girlfriend is Jewish, and yet they had a Christmas tree. Now, of those who do call themselves Christian, how many actually follow through with all the classical religious traditions. How many are aware of advent beyond band groups selling calendars with chocolate in them? With advent, there is a wreath of four candles in a circle of evergreen branches. Three of the candles are violet, and the fourth one is rose. Each day, before the evening meal, the candles are lit - one candle the first week, two on the second week, and so on. The third week's candle is the rose one. In the center, a single white candle is lit upon Christmas Eve. These symbolize the increasing light and a crescendo of expectance until the Christ candle is lit - reminding the faithful that Jesus has come as the light of the world.

There is an old custom from Europe and parts of America where symbolic ornaments on a Christmas tree are hung during Advent. These ornaments represent the Messianic prophecies. A Christmas tree with these ornaments is called a Jesse Tree - named after the father of King David - of which the Messiah was to be a descendent of. Each day had a separate passage from the Bible that was read, and a symbol from that passage is placed upon the tree. How often do you see a Christmas tree without a star until the day before? Or a symbolized hand hanging on the tree - the second Wednesday of Advent and its corresponding passage Numbers 6:22-27 (the hand represents the blessing of the Lord).

Every year, fewer and fewer people remember the religious part of the Christmas holiday, yet the Christmas Spirit remains - Peace on Earth, Goodwill to all men.

Mardi Gras/Carnival

Mardi Gras is a time of wild indulgences, most well known in the city of New Orleans where over a half a million people on crowd onto Canal Street alone (especially the nubile young women who respond back to the shout of "Show your tits!" with exposed assets).

This is the day before Ash Wednesday - when Lent starts and the name comes from "Fat Tuesday" - Mardi Gras in French. During lent, it is not allowed to have things with fat in it. Hence, people tried to use up all their extra fat before it goes bad during the period of fasting. The most typical symbol of this is the pretzel - it uses lots of fat in its making, and the traditional shape resembles the folded hands of a person in prayer.

Mardi Gras itself was the last chance for the faithful to submit themselves to the worldly pleasures before you gave them up during the period of fasting. Of the half million people who stand on Bourbon street, how many of them follow up with three Hail Mary's and two Acts of Contrition? Do the people there realize that they are taking part in a celebration of the resurrection of the Son of God, or has Mardi Gras become something else?


All through the month of October, people are gathering the materials for their Halloween costume. It is even part of the public schools in America to have Halloween parties - as a secular holiday.

Halloween is from "All Hallows Eve" - the eve before All Saints Day which is observed on November 1 by the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches where it is a Holy day of Obligation. Yes, this is from the pagan Celtic faith before it was incorporated into Christianity. Yes, blowdart, we got it from that side of the pond. Still, one way or the other - those dressing up are partaking in either a pagan Celtic festival, or a Christian festival.

Today, Halloween is almost entirely a secular festival. The Christian contribution to it has gone, and most think that it is mere coincidence that All Saints Day follows Halloween.

All Saints day is the day when many branches of Christianity celebrate and honor all the saints in Heaven - known and unknown. Historically, children would dress up as various saints which would then be honored at church the next day.

For in the multitude of your saints, you have surrounded us with a great cloud of witnesses, that we might rejoice in their fellowship, and run with endurance the race that is set before us; and, together with them, receive the crown of glory that never fades away.

pg 380 Book of Common Prayer

It seems rather odd that individuals will celebrate one of these holidays with many others, and yet get upset about celebrating another holiday with just as much religious background to it. These holidays, much to the dismay of the Christian faith have lost much of their religious meaning, but have taken on a different meaning today. These new meanings and attitudes are equally worthy of holidays.

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