‘tis the season…
it’s worth thinking about what holidays and rituals mean, or could mean. rituals and holidays serve strong emotional, social needs. taking time to gather with loved ones, marking the seasons and the passage of time, reflecting on the year past and setting hopes for the year ahead — all of these are positive things.
while rituals and holidays are most commonly used to affirm exclusive national, ethnic, and religious identities while upholding the authority of oppressive institutions from church to state, it doesn’t have to be this way. by structuring our holidays around anti-capitalist, anti-racist, and anti-oppressive values; and centering narratives of liberation, solidarity, and perseverance within our communal rituals, we can turn them into important sources of strength and community.
there is a long history of reinterpreting and reclaiming hegemonic holidays to serve liberatory ends. i know some people who seek to do so in a serious, faithful way — for example, leftist jews whose interpretation of passover is a message about the struggle for freedom from oppression for all peoples, or leftist christians who see in the story of the nativity a message about the dignity of the poor migrant. an alternative holiday can also be a form of protest, such as the coining of indigenous peoples’ day as a replacement to columbus day.
leftists need holidays too