I just had a discussion about traditional holidays with a bunch of my Reformed (Calvinist) friends. Should we celebrate or should we not celebrate?
Most of my friends were of a strict Regulative Principle mindset; they disagree with celebrating traditional holidays (Christmas, Easter, Halloween). I admit, I love these traditional holidays, especially Halloween and Christmas. Giving them up doesn’t sit well with me.
I’m starting to see, however, that celebration of these holidays is less about religious rites, and more about group identity and culture. Imagine telling a zealous Christian about the wonderful Dickens novel you’ve just read, only to have him reply that since Dickens isn’t part of the canon of Scripture, he must be rejected in favor of the Proverbs!
This stifling of the human spirit severely restricts the capacity for growth among Christian people, limiting their artistic and cultural expressions to a narrow set of predetermined customs, having no life, and amounting to little more than bland rehearsal and sermonizing.
It’s almost an attempt at being gnostic, isn’t it?
“Christianity” is abstracted from the flesh and blood ties of humanity and treated as a mere spiritual enterprise. But having little traditions is part of being human – it’s part of how we “make ourselves at home” on this Earth. From marking the backs of closet doors with the height of our growing children, to surprising our wives at their work on certain days of the week, to rubbing our buddy’s head for luck during certain sport games. Even more important is when these customs are practiced in the aggregate, by an entire community. They’re all the more special; all the more sacred.
They’re celebrations of ourselves at our best; celebrations of ourselves in the midst of God’s creation. And ultimately they’re a celebration of all His kindnesses, even the petty ones that help us pass these long days on Earth.
Giving up these holidays is like giving up being human, and there’s too much of that sort of thing going on as it is.
So, celebrate your people’s identity. Celebrate their humanity. Carve a pumpkin!