Holidays--Fulfillment of a Human Emotional Need

by rebel8 7 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • rebel8

    Many of us who spent a lot of time in the Borg developed a narrow view of holidays as a result of what we were taught. Once I started traveling, thinking for myself, and studying social sciences, I came to the realization that holidays meet a human emotional need. This is one of the many reasons why I do not hesitate to celebrate holidays. I've "talked" to many ex-jws on the forums who still believe celebrating holidays is either morally wrong or would hold no meaning to them. In light of the upcoming holidays, here is my gift to you--a very short essay about the emotional need filled by holidays from a social science perspective.

    I have been seeing some Xian Pastors on the news recently saying they are no longer conducting church services on XMas because the Bible doesn't say we should. 1 even went so far as to say he will not call it a "holiday" because that word is rooted in the word "holy"; he also mentioned people should not pretend using the term "holiday tree" or "Santa tree" take the religious meaning out of the term, Santa being rooted in the word "saint". My feeling is that is all unimportant; the main reason we celebrate holidays (or whatever you want to call them) is because it meets an emotiona need--and what's wrong with that? (I personally am finding it way too annoying to invent new terms for my XMas tree and other XMas celebrations.)

    Does the religious connection with holidays mean that an atheist/agnostic/humanist cannot celebrate holidays meaningfully? No. Again, life does not have to be about pleasing a supernatural being, whose wishes about holidays are truly not known if he or she exists at all.

    1. Holidays reinforce community, family, and social ties. It reminds us of our interconnection with each other. It reinforces our role and importance in our family and society.

    2. Holidays mark the passage of time and create a rememberance, a sort of pause in the rhythm of our daily lives.

    3. Holidays are a method to reinforce ideological convictions.

    4. Holidays provide a forum for expressing emotional attachments.

    5. Rituals (repetitive practices) add formality and dignity to an occassion, which tends to convey a sense of importance.

    6. Rituals and holidays reinforce societal structure, etiquette, and formality. Humans have an emotional need to belong; holidays reinforce the feeling of belonging.

    7. Rituals and traditions can provide a sort of metaphor for important values and goals.

    8. Cookies. Need I say more? (Ok what I really mean here is there is a pleasurable sensory experience associated with holidays--food, art, music. We treat ourselves to special foods that are too fattening to eat the rest of the year; we treat ourselves to other miscellaneous things that make us feel like it's a special time. All of that is harmless FUN.)

    Is it necessary then to celebrate the holidays the traditional way in order to get our emotional needs met? No. Use the "cut and paste technique"; simply observe traditions from various cultures and practice whatever ones you wish, discarding those you don't like and adding some of your own. Cultures have been doing that for as long as society has existed. (My personal cut and paste has been to decorate my home with only things from nature--snowflakes, stars, pinecones, etc., emphasizing the role of nature in my life instead of pseudoreligious stuff such as Santas--not that there's anything wrong with that. It also allows me to leave the decorations up longer without getting sick of looking at Santas and angels.)

    There is some suggestion that there is a biogenetic component to human rituals:

    "All religions have in common the periodical childlike surrender to a Provider or providers who dispense earthly fortune as well as spiritual health; some demonstrations of man's smallness by means of reduced posture and humble gesture, the admission in prayer and song of misdeeds, of misthoughts, and of evil intentions; fervent appeal for inner unification by divine guidance; and finally, the insight that individual trust must become part of the ritual practice of man, and must become a sign of trustworthiness in the community." --Eric H. Erikson
  • Sunnygal41

    Rebel.............great thread and great comments!!! I absolutely agree with what you've written, and would like to further add that I also feel it is part of our human psyche at this time of year to push back the long, winter darkness and cold with festivities, greens, light, food...........all meant to hasten the return of the sun and the warmth..............I also have taken the commercial elements out and opted for more nature oriented decorations..........although, this year we may not even put a tree up...........I usually go by the mood and cycle of my life and what is great, I don't feel guilty or left out of anything by not indulging.


  • Satanus
    My personal cut and paste has been to decorate my home with only things from nature--snowflakes, stars, pinecones, etc., emphasizing the role of nature in my life

    Hah, another pagan. Just kidding. I agree w the idea of the article.


  • rebel8

    Fooled ya! I'm not a Pagan--I'm actually a Humanist. I just happen to believe that we can learn a lot from the ways of nature, and I believe in conservation etc.

    I have a kitten who is climing everything now, other wise I'd have my snowflake tree up!

  • Scully

    Spot on Rebel8!

    There has been a fair bit of research about the benefits to families in the observances of traditions and holidays. I made a similar post last year after reading Dr Phil's Family First book. Traditions, Rituals and Celebrations are Important to Families


  • Crumpet

    rebel8 - i loved reading that so thank you for posting it and my forthcoming remarks are not intended derogatorily to anyone who likes holidays.

    I personally loathe christmas - I have had to increase my overdraft by £200 to afford Christmas presents - I still haven't paid off last year's. Okay I am lucky in that I dont have a family of my own because they are stuill on the Armageddon train and no signs of getting off so my presents bill is not as big as it could be. Still it costs a lot.

    For me it doesnt fulfill an emotional need - I just don't see the point of the whole period. It makes me claustrophobic having people in teh house for prolonged periods even though i do like them very much, so I find myself most christmases hiding out at the cinema, going swimming for hours or just wandering around the streets to pass the time in solitude.

    When Boxing Day comes I can't wait to get the decorations back in the attic- the hideous vulgar colours, the garish lights and baubles, the messy tree etc, the dozens of cards from people I've never heard of and have never met me.

    The stress of cooking is being alleviated this year as someone else is doing it thank god, but the whole thing feels anti climatic - even though I have no expectations in the first place.

    I just can't wait for it to be over and not have it so painfully pointed out to me that I am an orphan in this world now.

    Bah humbug - however I will smile and wear silly hats and pretend to be enjoying every last vile mouthful of mince pies because it makes everyone else happy.

  • rebel8

    Thanks for the link Scully--very similar to what I'm saying--great minds thinking alike.

    Crumpet--your points are valid. I too feel a heightened sense of awareness of how broken my family is and how much I've missed out on because of the JWs. There is nothing I can do to take that hurt away from me, it is very real. I try to distract myself, immerse myself in the things I do enjoy, and alcohol. I try to limit the time spent with the large extended family, otherwise they'd monopolize our time for an entire week and I'd have a meltdown for sure.

    I too don't like crowds in the house. My ILs are crazy about packing people into the house. It is loud and confusing. Space is so limited you can't get up and stretch, just sit there for hours in an uncomfortable folding chair. We just limit the time spent in those situations. I purposely don't host the larger family gatherings because of the commotion, loudness, crowding, and their customary failure to understand when they've overstayed their welcome.

    I still love the time I spend with my husband, picking out gifts, and decorating my house. I don't use the garish colors. I use blue, purple, silver, and white. My tree has ONLY snowflake ornaments and not too many. My goal is more elegance rather than kitchy or whimsical.

    Never liked mince pies either!

  • Ingenuous
    Holidays reinforce community, family, and social ties. It reminds us of our interconnection with each other. It reinforces our role and importance in our family and society.

    I agree very strongly! I didn't realize how much my family missed out on by not celebrating anything until I was out. It struck me - whilst watching a program about Christmas celebration in Europe - how little connectedness my family has and how different things would have been if we'd celebrated something together - even if it was only one holiday once a year.

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