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Non-Religious Holidays

Spiritually Rich, Non-Religious Holiday Celebrations

Susan M. Mumm, MA

Holiday rituals serve a very important function. They allow us to take time out from normal, daily routines to relax, play, and celebrate life. They also serve as a time to examine and reflect upon our life-paths; to re-focus and re-direct our lives to be more in tune with our deepest goals and values. However, in order for holiday rituals to achieve these ideals, they need to be congruent with our deepest religious and political beliefs. Through the years, as my spiritual and political views diverged more and more from the norm in the United States, I grew increasingly discontent with traditional holidays.* I eventually came to see that I needed to reexamine all the holiday celebrations in my life, and make whatever changes were necessary to make them congruent with my beliefs and values. I hope that, by sharing my re-evaluation process, I can help other people who are experiencing similar dissatisfactions create holidays more in harmony with their values.

You will notice, as you read this information, that whenever I have designed new holidays, I have designed the new holidays to fall on the same days as the traditional holidays of our culture. I did this for several reasons. First, it makes things so much easier logistically. Adults already have the day off from work, and children are out of school. I also chose to design my alternative holidays this way, because I discovered that this strategy was a tried and true one. Many Christian holidays were deliberately set up on the same days as former pagan holidays with the belief that it would be easier for people to make the transition.

I hope changes regarding holiday celebrations will go beyond the personal level. We are in need of some political changes as well -- changes in our national holiday designations. This country consists of people of many different faiths and philosophies. It is, therefore, quite inappropriate to have national holidays which reflect but one faith. Though Christianity is currently the faith of many Americans, there are a significant number of people of other religions, and this is increasingly true with every decade. I hope I live to see much more of a separation of "Church" and "State" in this country. I can envision that, in the foreseeable future, we will designate all our holidays in ways that respect all faiths. For example, we could simply designate two days in December as "December Holiday" and let all citizens celebrate in ways which reflect their personal values and philosophies.

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