Is There Only Room for one Winter Holiday?

December 12, 2011

Political Theory


Ancient conservatism centers on the idea of remaining static. Things in society are the way they are and they need to remain that way. This transitions into another idea of both classical and modern conservatism — tradition. Conservatives value tradition. As Edmund Burke said, “I put my foot in the tracks of my forefathers where I can neither wander nor stumble.”

Hannah Moore, a fellow conservative, believed there was an elite class and a working class and tried convincing the working class that they needed to remain as part of the working class. She wanted to maintain political and social stability.  Essentially she, too, valued tradition and wanted England’s ways and norms to remain.

This all brings me to my point. Recently, a Grand Valley University (west coast of Michigan) student wrote an article for that school’s newspaper. The article revolved around the idea of tradition just like conservatism does. Click here for article. The article is titled There is Only Room for One Holiday. The author argues that, in America, there is no room for any winter holiday except for Christmas. He bases his argument around a Facebook status post that includes phrases like “If you don’t like our “Customs” and it offends you so much then GO BACK TO YOUR OWN COUNTRY… They are called customs and we have our traditions. Don’t Like It…. PISS OFF!!!” Personally, I wouldn’t use some of the same colorful or hostile language as the person that wrote this post, but I think he nailed it. America does have certain customs and traditions that I believe are being jeopardized. We risk losing our identity when people fight for the right to maintain America as a one-religion nation and that we should only celebrate certain holidays or practice certain customs.

If it wasn’t clear for those of you reading the article, it’s a satire. Some think it’s too satirical and offensive. I, however, do not. The notion that there are actually people in our country that are upset by customs and traditions (whether it is in reference to winter holidays or just in general) different than their own are ludicrous.  People that claim that American traditions are solely that of Christian traditions do not understand the premise of America’s foundation. America was founded, among other reasons, with the intent to escape religious persecution and the right to believe what one chooses and celebrate how one chooses. These freedoms and rights to celebrate Hanukah, Kwanzaa, something else, or the right to celebrate nothing at all is a true American tradition that this country has maintained since before it officially became a country.

In an ancient conservatism sermon, it states, “…the earth, trees… and all manner of beasts keep their order…” Professor Lavaque-Manty summed up that sermon with, “The whole world is in a perfect order.” I acknowledge, along with Edmund Burke, that the world cannot remain static but tradition can remain constant. The “perfect order” we have in this country is our tradition of constant freedom to make our own decisions. Those decisions entail anything from which religion one wants to practice to customs and holidays one celebrates.

Do you agree with the idea that, like conservatism stresses, tradition is vital and we must abide by it? And do you think that tradition in America includes the freedom to choose which holiday or customs or what not to participate in? The multitude of diverse traditions in America is one of our greatest traditions.

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5 Comments on “Is There Only Room for one Winter Holiday?”

  1. jrphilli Says:

    I do believe that tradition is vital for a country and we should abide by it. But in America, we have allowed it to be okay to practice other religion and to not honor our country’s tradition. That is one reason that makes our country so appealing because there is so much freedom. In other countries, you cannot practice a million different religions and it be okay. But, in America you can. This does take away from our tradition. When our country was created they practiced one tradition, one religion. That is a part of what makes a nation, a country. We were founded on one tradition, one religion, so why is that a problem. Now, yes tradition may change, but it is still one central idea that everybody follows. I do not want America to become like other countries, but I do not want America to become an open pot for everybody to do whatever they want. Even with our freedom, we still need something to bring us together as a nation, a country. When our country was founded, was it with the tradition that we have the freedom to practice whatever holiday or customs we want to or not participate in?

  2. verlong Says:

    I agree with you on many of your ideas. It is RIDICULOUS how people say “Christmas or nothing.” It is also extremely upsetting how they say “If you’re not Christian, you can’t celebrate Christmas.” It’s not only Christians who do that though (although they often get the break). Some people from every religion feel that if you aren’t with them, you can’t experience their holidays/practices/etc. Let me give you some background on me. My mother and her family are Jewish, and so I was raised Jewish. In 5th grade I realized that I was spiritually atheist. Anyway, back to this article… One time I was talking to my cousin at Passover, and he told me that because I didn’t believe in the Jewish teachings, I shouldn’t sing/recite any of the prayers. I think that that is a completely incorrect approach to things, and that people should be able to embrace whatever culture if they want (even bits and pieces of it). Christmas right now, in my eyes, is almost a completely secular holiday. However, I still get weird looks when I tell people I celebrate Christmas (even though my father and his family are Christian). Is it a bad thing to embrace what Christmas has become? A holiday about family, togetherness, helping others, being thankful for what you have, and much more. People assume that non-Christians celebrate the holiday for the presents, but I don’t see it as that at all. And if I did, would that be totally a bad thing? Is telling people that they are not allowed to celebrate something because they aren’t involved in the culture exemplifying the teachings of any religion/holiday? Absolutely not. For anyone who was interested in that culture in the first place, may decide it is not for them because of this reason (or other reasons similar). Not only does this kind of hate and intolerance create a bad image for the group, but it also furthers a culture that can be unfriendly from within.

    The idea of tradition is something that I struggle with. In reference to the University of Michigan (like with our football uniforms), I often make the argument that “it became a tradition for a reason.” But for pretty much everything else, I often disagree. We can’t be stuck where we are for forever. Cultures are constantly growing and changing. If we don’t adapt to fit that, and pretend that everything is the same as it always has been, we will never progress as a society. We need to acknowledge the changes, but we need to also not forget the past. If we find some sort of way to merge them for certain things (such as traditional holidays), it would make many people much happier. You can’t please everyone, but you also can’t ignore those who don’t think the same way that you do.

    One last thing. I think that making people say “Holiday Tree” and stuff like that is ridiculous. Incorporating everyone is a very good thing, but I think that takes it to the extreme. Finding the balance is a problem, and something that people are going to have to work on for a long time.

  3. weinben Says:

    I believe that tradition is an important thing to keep in mind and it is vital for American society’s future success and perseverance. However, truly American “traditions” include equality, acceptance, and freedom. What makes the United States so unique amongst other nations and has granted it so much success (economically, politically, culturally) on the world stage is that many of its traditions are an amalgamated from many different sources. Our nation embraces the individual perhaps more than any other nation, and by doing so, we learn to live side by side of peoples of different colors, religions, and creeds. While there are members of society who reject this notion and would rather live in a homogeneous nation, from the get-go, the U.S. was founded by the work, in all different ways, of Caucasians (from England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Russia, Italty, France, etc), blacks whose origins trace back to many different tribes and ethnic groups in Africa, and Native Americans. As we’ve aged and progressed, we have welcomed Middle Eastern peoples, Far eastern Asians, and South and Latin Americans, as well. Now, some might argue that, although there are many different types of people who are average citizens, those who are generally the most elite in America have typically come from white, upper class heritage. I, however, reject this notion. While whites, it could be fair to say, control most wealth, other peoples have contributed just as much, if not more so, to our cultural landscape, which includes music, the arts, entertainment, literature, and more. So, I would say the backbone of American tradition is multiculturalism.

  4. schoemad Says:

    I agree that this nation definitely puts a large stress on Christmas as national holiday, but I have not met other people who are ignorant enough to be angry that there are other holidays during this season. Tradition is an important part of this nation’s identity and I do believe that there are some traditions that need to be maintained. Although there are traditions that are important, changes and reforms need to occur. We can’t always remain static. People are still experiencing maltreatment and insensitivity due to different religious backgrounds and identities. There is no reason for people to shove traditions down other people’s throats. I hate that today people still can’t learn to accept other people’s cultures and ideas that are other than their own. This nation is strongest because of the diversity of ideas and backgrounds. Our differences make us stronger. It sounds corny, but I really believe it. This nation has the idea of the separation of church and state, but it seems like these days people are holding onto the idea that the government should defend the church. Some citizens in the US believe that the idea of gay marriage is an abomination, but why do they say that? Because they stick to that one tiny line in the Bible. This is one tradition that needs to change soon. Yes, tradition is important and makes up part of who we are, but it doesn’t define a nation.

  5. daniellwang Says:

    I think that the real problem at hand is intolerance. Conservatism and even ancient conservatism is not an inherently bad ideal. Sometimes it is nice to continue traditions and maintain the familiar. However I think it is important to remember that these choices to keep the tradition are personal and irrelevant to those around you. Conflict begins when those that believe in tradition try to force those beliefs on others with different ideals. However, this can go both ways as those who advocate change can also be susceptible to intolerance. For example, there are some radicals who believe that there should be some sort of change in the old traditions and force this belief on everyone else. I like the point that was brought up by the author and I would agree that it is a tradition in America to be able to choose your own traditions. This country was founded on diversity and built by immigrants with varying traditions. This is a very nice way of putting the American tradition in perspective.

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