Many holidays are celebrated throughout the year in Ireland and all of them are a part of the Irish tradition and culture. This article is going to focus on only three of the main holidays: Christmas, Halloween, and Easter. Before we get into if these holidays have become too commercialised, we have to take a look at the history of them.
Easter is a commemorative holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. It is the end of Lent which is 40-days of fasting, penance, and prayer. It is also preceded by Good Friday, where you should not eat meat. In Christian countries, where Christianity is the state religion, Easter is often a public holiday.
How it got from being about the resurrection of Jesus to Easter eggs and bunnies was an organic thing. The egg is an ancient symbol of new life and rebirth. It was a custom in the early Christianity community of Mesopotamia, who stained eggs red in memory of the blood of Christ, shed at his crucifixion. For early Christians, the Easter Egg is a symbol of the empty tomb. In the old tradition, it was dyed chicken eggs but now it is usually chocolate that is decorated. As many people give up sweets for Lent, Easter Sunday is the first day they get to enjoy it again.
Halloween is a holiday that originated in Ireland. It is a pagan holiday that is referred to as Samhain. The tradition of Halloween in Ireland is a long one. The Samhain festival marked the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. In Irish mythology Samhain was a time when the doorways to the otherworld opened, allowing supernatural beings and the dead to come into our world. The souls of the dead would revisit their homes, seeking hospitality. From the 16th century, guising was added to the tradition, where people would dress up as the Aos sí or the souls of the dead, usually reciting verses or songs in exchange for food. By wearing these costumes it was believed to have hidden them from the Aos sí and the dead.
Christmas is an annual festival to commemorate the birth of Christ, observed primarily on the 25th of December. It is a religious and cultural holiday that is observed by millions around the world. The first Christmas was celebrated in Rome in 336. Although his exact birth date is unknown, the church set it at the 25th of December, which corresponds with the date of the winter solstice.
Religion and Ireland
For many years religion was the forefront of Irish society. Easter and Christmas are two holidays that are intertwined with religion, while Halloween is an integral part of Irish culture. All three of these holidays make up the history of Ireland and with the decline of religion in the state, it is safe to say that the original meaning is somewhat lost now.
With Easter, to children, it is more focused on the chocolate and gifts they receive from their family. Christmas is about Santa Claus and Halloween is about sweets which means that without the meaning behind it, it has become commercialised. People should try to take some of the more traditional aspects that have been lost and implement them into the holiday.
Celebrating these holidays used to be about coming together with family and friends, whether that be going to a haunted house, watching a film, or looking at all the done-up houses at Christmas. Which leads to the main question:
Have holidays become too commercialised?
Well, yes and no. It is important to know the history of any holiday, even if you do not agree with what it used to represent. It does not mean that you can’t enjoy Christmas because you are not a Christian as, over time, the holiday became more about spending time with family. Unfortunately, we lost that along the way and now all you will hear is children having a long list of what they want off Santa, including the newest items on the market. December is now a month that is filled with stress for many as they try to navigate packed shops looking for gifts.
It is because the meaning of these holidays have been lost that it has become too commercialised. All you have to do is look at Black Friday deals in America to know that it is now more about physical goods instead of spending time with family and friends. Ireland is not as bad as other countries but it is getting worse and kids are getting more demanding, meaning that the meaning of these holidays is going right over their heads. There is a reason there are so many get-togethers at Christmas every year. It is the season of reconnecting. Halloween to a lesser extent is the same, as you will see a lot of Halloween parties.
A few ways you can bring the holidays back to the basics without spending a lot of money is by going on Autumn walks at Halloween. During Easter bake something with your children instead of buying them a load of chocolate eggs. At Christmas, drive around and see all the different decorations people have outside their houses, or go for a hot chocolate together.
You don’t need material goods to have a good time during the holidays. As we move further from religion these holidays are about reconnecting with family and friends. It is not the material things that people remember, but the memories made with loved ones.
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