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The reason for the season, as in the winter holiday one that we are in the midst of, is the season itself. In any society that has a winter, especially a bad one, you find lots of winter celebrations. These take the form of Winter Solstice celebrations, completetion of harvest celebrations, or simply "Let's all get drunk" celebrations. The basic idea is to stave of cabin fever. In societies that don't celebrate winter holiday's in a big way (like the early Puritans) you get things like the Salem witch trials. Anyone who tries to tell you that there is any deep spiritual meaning to the holiday's is taking their dogma a little too much at face value. This is not to denigrate spirituality, using this time of year as a time for reflectiveness on good and joy and peace is a wonderful idea. But it is certainly not the reason for the season.

Interstingly enough, there are many societies in warmer climates that have no winter celebration, especially ones that didn't do much in the way of astronomical measurements (hence they didn't know that of the Solstice).

A very interesting phenomenon related to this: there is a major holiday near *all* of the season changes (for the United States, anyway), and one near most of the mid-season markers as well. Something about celebrating change and all that, I suppose. A great astronomy professor I once had, Jim Kaler, clued me into this.

Autumnal Equinox: Labor Day (1st Monday in September)

Mid-Fall: Halloween (October 31st)

Winter Solstice: Thanksgiving (4th Thursday in November), Christmas (December 25th), Passover (late March, early April), Kwanzaa (26th-31th of December) and New Year's Day (January 1st)

Mid-Winter: Valentine's Day (February 14th), President's Day/Washington's Birthday (3rd Monday in February)

Vernal Equinox: St. Patrick's Day (March 17th), Easter (Early April)

Mid-Spring: Memorial Day (Last Monday in May), Mother's Day (2nd Sunday in May)

Summer Solstice: Independence Day (July 4th)

Mid-Summer: ????

Notice that most of the big holidays (including all 3 religious biggies) occur when it is coldest, and relatively few occur in the summertime...I suppose when it's warm, you don't need a special reason to break the monotony and celebrate.

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