?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Some Thoughts on Being Jewish in a Christian Society in General and on Christmas in Particular - Mo's Journal
October 16th, 2007
12:29 pm

[Link]

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Some Thoughts on Being Jewish in a Christian Society in General and on Christmas in Particular
I read some of the stuff on anti-Semitism that’s been floating in meta lately. Although it’s in my Ten Things I Assume You Know About Me, I’ll repeat now that I’m a Jew, that I’m very Jewishly identified and involved in Jewish community but I am not an Orthodox Jew and do not feel an obligation to restrict my activities on Jewish holidays in a way that would leave me not knowing about LJ posts that occur on Jewish holidays. Which is not to say that I always keep up with LJ or that I wouldn’t miss things because of being busy with the holiday (I don’t and I do), but that I don’t have any sense that I cannot read LJ on Sukkot or even on Shabbat for that matter. Different strokes for different folks.


So, with the caveat that the original issue did not apply to me, I’ll say that my general thoughts are:
- There’s a lot of anti-Semitism out there

- Non-Jews not being aware of Jewish holidays isn’t anti-Semitism

- Whether some event should or should not occur on a Jewish holiday is a judgment call, but I think the judgment should include questions of how many people are affected by it, is there a workaround, how important the event is, etc.

- People in small minorities know we’re in the minority thankyouverymuch

- Members of minority religions tend to know a lot more about the majority religion than vice versa

- In mixed groups, it behooves members of the majority to remember that they aren’t the only people there. It is more polite and more inclusive to think about what you're saying and doing and not say or do things that tend to deny our existence.



Okay, let’s talk about Christmas. And yes, I realize it’s early, but this has brought up some thoughts for me and I hope they’re helpful or at least interesting to some.


- Christmas is not a universal holiday. It is a Christian holiday that is also celebrated secularly by some, but it is a Christian holiday. In a country that has both a Christian majority (75% according to the 2001 American Religious Identification Survey identify as Christian) and an Establishment Clause I think it is very good for Christians and otherwise Christmas-celebrating people to realize and recognize that not everyone celebrates Christmas.

- Consequently, if you’re asking in a mixed group, don’t say "What is everyone doing for Christmas?", "I know we're all dealing with trying to figure out how much to spend on Christmas gifts" etc. We aren’t all celebrating this. There’s nothing wrong with asking for info/input from those who are but do acknowledge that the rest of us exist, too.

- It's nice to acknowledge other people's holidays. I generally wish a Merry Christmas to people I know celebrate Christmas. LJ is chock full every year of Christmas wishes yet it’s a rare event when someone not Jewish – even someone who has a lot of Jews on his/her flist acknowledges major Jewish holidays (minisinoo is one of the rare people who does). That kind of acknowlegement does tend to happen around Hanukah, but it's much nicer to pay attention to the holidays others are saying are important to them than to give a nod to one that you find easy to subsume into your own celebration.

- Hanukah is not the Jewish Christmas. It is a very minor holiday (see more info here ) and you have not made your Christmas party at work or school “inclusive” by adding Hanukah to it.

- We aren’t Grinches, spoilsports and Scrooges for not celebrating your holiday. It’s just not ours. I often have people (irl not just on the internets) assume I celebrate Christmas and express surprise, dismay, and even anger when I say I don't. The latter has intensified since the children were born, since the anger seems to be located in the belief that I am "depriving" them of Christmas. I respond politely to anyone who wishes me a Merry Christmas ("I don't celebrate Christmas, but if you do I sure hope you have a great holiday!") and even respond politely, albeit firmly, to those who tell me I ought to. I respond politely to people who assume I'm heterosexual, too ("No, actually, my ex-partner is a woman, so I don't have an ex-husband. Yes, the kids spend half the time with her"). I think it's much better, though, when people don't make such assumptions and take the time to find out to whom they are speaking.

- I realize that people will keep making assumptions and I see part of my role in that dance as politely correcting their assumptions in the hope that they will think a little more next time. I could just say "Thank you, you too" when people wish me a Merry Christmas, and I recognize that some think that is the polite thing to do. I think it's better for all if I don't, even if it occasionally makes some folks a little uncomfortable to think there are people not just like them. If they respond by wishing me a Happy Hanukah, I will thank them if it's indeed Hanukah. If Hanukah was two weeks ago, I will politely inform them of that fact.

- There's a big distinction between public and private celebration, imo. I don't think celebration of a Christian holiday is appropriate in a public school in a country with an Establishment Clause. I get pretty frustrated when saying that is met with comments about it's too bad Jews are so sensitive or that there’s a War on Christmas. I feel like this discussion, which can be held at a pretty high level, gets distorted and misrepresented a lot.

- I think part of the problem is that for a lot of people an important element of the fun of celebrating Christmas is the idea that everyone is celebrating with you, and that’s why people are often insistent on having the whole month of December devoted to Christmas in school and work, with Secret Santas and decorations and all. But most Christians and otherwise Christmas-celebrating people in the U.S. get the holiday off to celebrate, and most schools are closed for a week or two around the holiday and this really is enough time to have a good long celebration in the private sphere. Is Christmas Cheer such a fragile thing that merely acknowledging there are some of us who don’t celebrate the holiday shatters it?

- I have found that the Santa myth can be very hard on kids whose parents are telling them the truth and have generally seen little to no sympathy from the parents who make it hard on them. And when I say the truth, I'm not talking about the "Yes, Virginia" version. I mean that I have let my children know that their friends' parents are buying presents and marking them from Santa and telling their children Santa delivered them. Why have I done that? Because I’m not going to lie to my kids and tell them that a mythical person brought presents for their friends just to support someone else's deception.

- I think there is huge pressure not to reveal that the parents are the ones giving the presents, not to "spoil the magic" for Santa believers. The stereotype of the "mean kid" who spoils the innocent child's fun is very present, I think. IRL, though, to avoid being thought of as that mean kid a child has to learn to sidestep questions like "Why don't you get presents from Santa? Were you bad?" and to do so with grace at the age of 3 or 4 or 5. That's a lot to ask and I would ask that those who expect it of other people's preschoolers give some thought as to whether their kids had such advanced social skills at such a young age.

I have told my kids from a pretty young age that they absolutely cannot tell children who believe in Santa that he doesn't exist and they have always managed to comply, but not without a few tense moments each year. I am so glad they are well beyond the age where their peers believe now. I think those who raise their children to believe the Santa myth should give some thought to the burden they put on small children before they condemn a four-year-old who doesn’t effectively sidestep. I also would caution those who are raising their kids with the Santa myth, and particularly with the part that says Santa gives presents to "all the good children" in the world that they are teaching their children that those who don't celebrate Christmas are not good children.

- I do think many of the Christian and otherwise Christmas-celebrating people on lj and other internet communities list could learn a lot from how the Jews on this and other online venues talk about Jewish celebration and ritual and holidays. IME very time they come up, they are prefaced with comments like "For those of you who celebrate Rosh Hashanah," and then followed by "what are you doing?" or "I hope you have a happy holiday" or whatever.



Maybe we can talk about Halloween next:-). FWIW, I'm pro.

(112 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments
 
Page 1 of 2
<<[1] [2] >>
[User Picture]
From:talktooloose
Date:October 16th, 2007 04:58 pm (UTC)
(Link)
In the spirit of yesterday's "I have no time, please pick me..."

I don't want to read this debate, please give me the url.

(BTW, I would like to answer your questions about my interests and hope to do so.)
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:October 16th, 2007 05:26 pm (UTC)
(Link)
There have been a lot of posts. It started with this one: http://mamadeb.livejournal.com/760740.html

I feel bad that such a firestorm came from what seems to me like a pretty lightweight, cranky post. I think we all get to be cranky and not everything has to be profound and my impression from reading what follows in her journal is that she didn't know what hit her. I don't think there's anything wrong with announcing Yuletide signups on a Jewish holiday and I don't think there's anything wrong with being a bit cranky if that happens and you feel left out. I do think the discussion that came out of this was worth having, but you'd have to look at a bunch of posts in assorted journals to get a sense of it.
[User Picture]
From:hitchhiker
Date:October 16th, 2007 09:00 pm (UTC)
(Link)
- Hanukah is not the Jewish Christmas. It is a very minor holiday (see more info here ) and you have not made your Christmas party at work or school “inclusive” by adding Hanukah to it.

yes! that one *really* bothers me.
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:October 17th, 2007 02:48 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Me, too.

Hey, what happened to Minstrels? Have you guys stopped altogether? I miss it.
[User Picture]
From:notmonica
Date:October 16th, 2007 09:39 pm (UTC)
(Link)
As most of your FYI post do, this one has me thinking:
80%-What? Really, you're kidding me, right?
15% Oh! Good point!
5% Hmmm, I didn't know that-must do better in the future.

So in that vein:
-How hard is it to say "Happy Holidays"? It's direct and (largely) inclusionary. To my knowledge there are few religions that don't celebrate something around the winter solstice (Jehovah's Witness leaps to mind although I'm sure there's others).

-Would you do your "Purim Mom" thing on LJ next spring?

[User Picture]
From:wneleh
Date:October 16th, 2007 10:53 pm (UTC)
(Link)
"Happy Holidays" is just code for "Merry Christmas," though, isn't it? Esp. when Hanukkah has been over for a week or two? I'll respond "Oh, you too," to "Happy Holidays," but don't wish it widely or randomly for a number of reasons.

- - - - - - -

I read the merryish pov of things yesterday, and the mamadeb message today. I'd have no clue how they could have blown up if I hadn't done so myself too many times.

- Helen
[User Picture]
From:rae_1985
Date:October 16th, 2007 09:42 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I'm a religion minor, and my focus has been on religions of The Books, mostly Christian and Jewish, but some Islam. I'm also a non practicing Catholic (mostly political/personal reasons) that identifies strongly as a Catholic. That all being said, I find it very disturbing that more people don't know about our country's top 3 religions. I didn't know anything about Muslims, and very VERY little about Jews before college. The little I knew about Jewish holidays was from a substitute in elementary school who was Jewish. She always told us about Hanukah, the historical significance, and the rituals. That being said, she told us during Christmas season, so that she could slip it into the curriculum unnoticed.

There were very obvious religious things that I had no understanding of as a high school graduate, like the fact that the Old Testament is actually from the Jews, and as such our religious histories are tied closely together. I have a feeling that as a Jew, a student would still know about the bible stories and Jesus from the New Testament, at least the basic obvious stuff. On the one hand I understand that the majority of people in this country are Christian, but on the other hand I realize that does not give us a pass to ignore everyone else. I have the same debate with myself about "Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holidays" in public and political settings.

As a college student actively seeking knowledge of religions, it is still hard to get past the Christianity of our country, and learn about other religious holidays/rituals. A lot of profs assume that we know everything about Christianity, so they use Christian things as examples. I'm in my last two classes for my minor, and I can safely say I at least know the basics about Jewish and Islamic history, laws, and rituals. And I have a very high respect for religions. Growing up with the family I did, that's a great battle won. Lets just say that if I ever dated a) a black guy, my grandfathers wouldn't speak to me, b) a Jewish guy, my grandmother and aunt's wouldn't speak to me, or c) if I was gay, my entire family would disown me. My tolerance of people different from the norm has definitely NOT come from my family.

I look at my college classes as a way to make me understand there is more than Christianity being practiced. It gave me an open slate to learn about other religions as I could. I'm still Catholic, and without actively practicing other religions I don't think I will ever have as great an understanding of the hows and whys, but at least I have the whats.

This all being said, anything you want to tell us about different Jewish holidays or rituals will be greatly appreciated. Or just about being Jewish in a predominantly Christian country. I never thought about the burden Santa put on non Christmas kids. It never occurred to me, and I'm ashamed to admit I was always angry to hear about kids 'spilling the beans about Santa'. Some kids do it to be mean I'm sure, but others do it without realizing what's going on. Things like that are really important to understand in our society. I stumbled into my religion minor because I took so many classes that interested me, so I'm always looking for a greater understanding of the religions around me.
[User Picture]
From:wneleh
Date:October 16th, 2007 11:19 pm (UTC)
(Link)
There were very obvious religious things that I had no understanding of as a high school graduate, like the fact that the Old Testament is actually from the Jews, and as such our religious histories are tied closely together.

Did you go to CCD classes? I grew up United Methodist and we learned a decent amount about Judaism in Sunday School. A lot of it was wrong (or very limited, or very broad-stroke), but at the level of the origin of the Hebrew Scriptues (what we call the OT - I'm not sure it's a more acceptible term to Jews, but it gets away from the Old/New thing) - yeah, we got that.

I'm ashamed to admit I was always angry to hear about kids 'spilling the beans about Santa'.

As a Christian, it's always been pretty important to keep Santa out of Christmas, both growing up in a moderately conservative church in MD and now in my very liberal church in Massachusetts. It always surprises me to hear that people who actually celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday include Santa in any other than a wink-wink, nudge-nudge way, or encourage full-press lying to chldren. But obviously my experiences aren't typical. Makes me scared to go west of Worcester, it does.

- Helen
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
(no subject) - (Anonymous) - Expand
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:rae_1985
Date:October 17th, 2007 01:44 am (UTC)
(Link)
If anything, they struggled to separate FROM Jewish holidays

You see a lot of this around that time period. They did the same thing with when to have the day of rest. It was specifically made different from the Jewish day. I'm taking a class on Christian Religious Traditions, which is completely about history and why/when things started being done. I'm really enjoying it.
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:cherrypin_up
Date:October 17th, 2007 01:59 am (UTC)
(Link)
I hope that you don't find me offensive. I wish happy holidays from Halloween through New Years, simply because I love the feeling of celebration that surrounds such widely celebrated (and yes, overly commercialized) times. Some people celebrate different things but during that time just about every religion celebrates something. I admit that I celebrate all of it secularly, nothing I do is related to religion. I was raised in a very extreme "Christian" church that didn't even allow celebration of your birthday. We were allowed large family dinners for Thanksgiving and Easter and that was it. I understand and support those people that I know in their own beliefs and celebrations, but I have had enough with religion for my own family so I don't take the time out to study when someone might be celebrating or not celebrating. You know? I'm not trying to sound nasty, in case that's how I'm coming across. Just bluntly, if you don't tell me (usually repeatedly due to my poor memory) that you are or aren't doing something, I might just forget and offend you. Not you, you - the general "you".

And just a little thing, Christmas didn't come from the Christians but was a Pagan holiday full of overindulgence and lawlessness. The Christians wanted to win the Romans over so they kept their holiday just under a different name. Maybe not the lawlessness but I think overindulgence is definitely still a major factor in Christmas, whether it be in food, drink or spending. I see no Christ in the Christmas tree and stockings. But if someone chooses not to celebrate it, I am happy to support them in their decision.

The only friend I have here is Jewish and we've just had a very minor form of this conversation, where her children want to celebrate Christmas. We know it's all because of the tv shows and the kids at school and probably the teachers as well, which is sad. Their family celebrates differently so they're not as recognized. If the class got together for a different Jewish holiday and *did* something - made cookies or cut out paper shapes and told stories, that might be nice for them. I don't know where I'm going with this. I'm going to bed now, perhaps I can speak, or type, coherently tomorrow. : )

Oh, but what have we got against Halloween? I know what most people do, but I'm curious.
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:October 17th, 2007 01:52 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Christmas here and now is indeed a Christian holiday, albeit one celebrated by many non-Christians secularly.

I don't have anything against Halloween - as I said, I'm pro.
[User Picture]
From:libgirl
Date:October 17th, 2007 02:56 am (UTC)
(Link)
You know, I do try to be sensitive to cultural difference in terms of religion and Holidays. Most of my students are Indian and I do try to wish them a happy day when I know it's a celebratory day for them. That said, I get complacent and I know it.

I wouldn't say that my family is Christian and I personally follow a Native American path, but we have internalized many of the secularized Christian traditions. One thing I remember in High School was people asking me what I was giving up for Lent. At that time I didn't event really know what Lent was or why I should be giving something up.

We do give gifts at Christmas, but we don't really do Easter much at all anymore. When we did, it was for the Easter bunny, not for religious reasons. Both of my parents were raised Christian and I think most of what we celebrated was a result of their upbringing and a latent expectation that was the way that was how we were supposed to be raised. We weren't actually raised Christian however, I have never attended a church service with either of my parents unless it was in conjunction with a wedding or funeral.

As far as that goes, on days when I have Lodge, I also have people asking if I can just skip or go next time. While it is true that I can miss Lodge or go next time, it's not like church. We have ceremony once a month. If I miss it, then I may go two or three months between ceremonies.

The same thing with Sun Dance. When I told my friends I was asked by my Elders to prepare to go to Sun Dance as soon as possible (in a support role, not in a dancing role) they were largely clueless about how much of an honour that was and is.

Ethnocentrism is an interesting thing. :/
[User Picture]
From:kestrelsparhawk
Date:October 17th, 2007 03:49 am (UTC)
(Link)
Thanks for carrying one, and with perfect clarity! I raised it on my lj because I felt I needed to say something, but don't think I was especially coherent, particularly since I had clicked on many of the conceivable links and was totally overwhelmed.

Awhile back, I mentioned to a list that my nieces and brother were constantly emailing me Christian materials of the "puppy in the road" sort, and that I loved them but after telling them each several times that I am not Christian, am not going to convert to being Christian, and don't relate to the "sweet stories" about G-d and J*s*s, I needed some non-Christian or better yet anti-Christian (in the sense of neutralizing) spam to send them back.

Long sentence to say -- is it okay if I cut and paste your comments and the address and send it to my nieces? Because that would be just what I was looking for.
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:October 17th, 2007 02:10 pm (UTC)
(Link)
You're welcome to pass it on, but I think it might be hard for them to understand. Part of the specific problem between Christians and Jews is that Christianity is a religion that proselytizes and Judaism is a religion that doesn't and Jews largely don't want to be proselytized to. And part of the problem with your nieces, I dare say, is youth and not having the experience or the maturity to understand that you've put a lot of time and effort and thought into the religious decisions you've made.
[User Picture]
From:alixtii
Date:October 17th, 2007 04:42 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Can we talk about Halloween? It seems to be a spectrum from secular to religious, ranging from say Flag Day to the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception, and Christmas falls closer to the Immaculate Conception than Flag Day but I really have no clue where Halloween falls. It's closer to Flag Day than Christmas, I think, although I'm not sure by how much.
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:October 17th, 2007 05:00 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Hi, do I know you? I think you have a good concept there, with your secular-to-religious spectrum. I think that Halloween is a holiday with both Christian and pagan roots, but at this point in the space/time continuum it's completely secular. Look at it this way - we're not getting messages from large and powerful religious groups to "Remember the Reason for the Season" or condemning the lack of religious focus. That ship sailed a long time ago.

Here and now, Halloween is about costumes and kids and treats and (not too) scary stuff. Now, it's absolutely true that some don't celebrate for religious reasons but that doesn't make it religious. By analogy, observant Jews and Muslims don't eat bacon cheeseburgers, but that fact does not make a bacon cheeseburger a religious object. Or to look at it another way, if Orthodox Jews don't celebrate Halloween because they view it as Christian and Conservative Christians don't celebrate Halloween because they view it as pagan, that's pretty good evidence that it's secular :-).

I have Halloween decorations all over my house, btw, and do every year. And it's a very fun holiday in my neighborhood. We don't have residential trick-or-treating but all the merchants on our main drag give out treats and have staff in costumes and you just see everyone all dressed up and having a great time and there's a parade...

[User Picture]
From:kattahj
Date:October 18th, 2007 07:50 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Re: the Santa myth (the rest is interesting too, but that's the only thing where I have anything to say), I was raised not to believe in Santa (i.e. jultomten, the Swedish equivalent), because my mother was very firm that she was not going to lie to us, ever. Part of the reason was that she's religious and figured that, "If I tell them that Santa exists and they find out he doesn't, what's that going to tell them about God?" Part was that she'd been horribly disappointed as a child when she realized Santa wasn't real.

I never had a problem with this as a child. Our family had reversed the tradition so that we kids dressed up as Santas and brought gifts to our parents (and each other). It was huge fun; I've always liked playing dress up. By the time I started paying attention to how other people celebrated, none of the other kids I knew believed in Santa either.

Now, however, I'm working at a school, and while I would imagine most kids either don't celebrate Christmas at all or only very little (since a majority are Muslim), they still have Santas showing up in December, and there's still pressure from my colleagues to tell the kids Santa is real. My mom's reasons still stand, and I don't believe in lying to children (it feels to me more serious a lie than saying that a staff member with a day off is "invisible today", which I've agreed to do), but I don't feel comfortable bursting a bubble someone else is working to create either. Usually, when a staff member asks me to verify that Santa is real, I reply, "I'm not getting involved in this," which isn't perfect - I'm sure the kids can interpret it just fine as a "no" - but I haven't thought of anything better.


Oh, I just realized, re: Halloween: It's a very young tradition in Sweden (All Hallow's Eve has mostly been about putting lights on graves and remembering your dead), and really unnecessary since the kids already dress up as witches and go begging for candy around Easter. I've spent a whole lot of years rather anti the whole thing, since there were several instances of little kids egging houses and older kids getting drunk and knocking tombstones over, but I've relented lately, because kids love ghosts and having a whole holiday dedicated to ghosts isn't really I can deprive them of.

Well. As long as they don't egg houses and knock tombstones over, anyway. *g*
[User Picture]
From:kattahj
Date:October 18th, 2007 07:51 pm (UTC)
(Link)
*isn't really anything I can deprive them of.

Learn how to write, Katta!
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:October 19th, 2007 02:09 am (UTC)
(Link)
I think people who *do* celebrate Christmas get sick of the hype and the overfocus on it at least as much as those of us who don't.
[User Picture]
From:silently_hyper
Date:October 18th, 2007 10:19 pm (UTC)
(Link)
This is probably the best post I've read on this whole debacle. Thank you so much for writing what I've always found hard to explain about my attitudes toward Christmas and the Christmas season.
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:October 19th, 2007 02:08 am (UTC)
(Link)
I'm glad you enjoyed it! What does ATP stand for? Atomic _____ Power?
[User Picture]
From:ringthebells
Date:October 19th, 2007 03:08 am (UTC)
(Link)
It's nice to acknowledge other people's holidays. I generally wish a Merry Christmas to people I know celebrate Christmas. LJ is chock full every year of Christmas wishes yet it’s a rare event when someone not Jewish – even someone who has a lot of Jews on his/her flist acknowledges major Jewish holidays (minisinoo is one of the rare people who does). That kind of acknowlegement does tend to happen around Hanukah, but it's much nicer to pay attention to the holidays others are saying are important to them than to give a nod to one that you find easy to subsume into your own celebration.

I've been thinking a lot about this point, and I decided I really needed to respond—because we are on each others' flists, and I do tend to post "Merry Christmas!" on the 25th of December, and I don't post about Jewish holidays, and I feel like it would be kind of rude of me, after this post, to keep doing that without giving you some sort of explanation at least.

So, like I said, you got me thinking. (That's a good thing!) And my conclusion is that my holiday-greeting habits on LJ are, when you get right down to it, kind of backwards. I don't put "happy special occasion!" wishes in my journal based on what I know other people are celebrating, but rather based on what I'm celebrating. Thus, in my journal I'll wish everyone a "merry Christmas" even though I am perfectly aware that not everyone celebrates it, a "happy Canada Day!" despite the fact that like half my flist is American or British, and even a "happy Moving Day!" despite the fact that barely anyone outside of Montreal will even know what I'm talking about. (That last is pretty tongue-in-cheek, but still. I've posted about it!) My entry from earlier today is not really a case in point, since it came about from me thinking about this stuff and getting curious about holidays in general and then accidentally stumbling on the fact that today is apparently a Canadian day of observance which I'd never heard of but which I thought was worth mentioning, once I knew about it ... but anyway, that is the kind of post I make.

I guess my unspoken message is, "Hey, here's what I'm celebrating! So, tell me, what are you celebrating?" Or, you know, observing, because not every special occasion is a celebration; I've posted about December 6th before; I know you and many others post about September 11th, and so on.

It would be nice of me, I guess, to post "happy X-day!" messages in my journal that actually apply to other people besides me. (Er, "X" in the preceding example being meant in the mathematical sense of standing in for an unknown, and not meant to have anything to do with X-mas.) But, dammit, I'm just not that thoughtful. I forget my own spouse's birthday. (Seriously, the other day we had the following exchange. Me: Okay, to fill out this form I need your social insurance number. Him: All right, the card's in my wallet. Me: ... And your birth date. Him: *just looking at me* Me: Oh, just give me your wallet, I'll get it off your driver's license.) Also, if I were to start trying to fit in everybody's religious and/or cultural special days, I worry that I'd end up starting every entry with a holiday greeting—and still, inevitably, leaving things out. I mean, just with the Christian and the Jewish holy days it's not so bad, but I wouldn't feel right at that point excluding everybody else.

Incidentally, this all applies only to my Livejournal—it's totally different in real life! For my close friends, I know what they're celebrating (since they tell me) so I can wish them "happy whatever!" appropriately, and for anyone who I don't know that well I stick with what I know they're celebrating—when school finishes in December I don't say "happy holidays!" but rather "have a great vacation!" because hey, at least I know everyone's having a vacation! (Everyone at school, that is. My apologies to those of you in the rest of the working world.)
[User Picture]
From:kattahj
Date:October 19th, 2007 05:23 am (UTC)
(Link)
I don't put "happy special occasion!" wishes in my journal based on what I know other people are celebrating, but rather based on what I'm celebrating.

Same here. The issue did come up for me now with Eid - I knew very well that it was Eid, I wrote fics for the occasion, but the idea of actually wishing people on my flist a happy Eid made me feel as if I was co-opting the religion. I suppose it'd be easier with Jewish religions since I actually know that several people on my flist celebrate those, but I'd still feel like I was butting in where I didn't belong. Especially since I wouldn't know how to phrase things - I kind of figure you wouldn't wish someone a "happy" Yom Kippur, for instance.

Meanwhile, I'll quite cheerfully wish my flist a happy Valborg, Lucia or Midsummer, even though I'm well aware a vast majority won't celebrate it. Maybe I've got things backwards, I don't know. But I kind of like seeing people make greetings on their own holidays, since it means I get an overview of who celebrates what.
[User Picture]
From:kita0610
Date:October 19th, 2007 03:49 am (UTC)
(Link)
Very nice.

Thanks for this!
[User Picture]
From:mofic
Date:October 19th, 2007 11:26 am (UTC)
(Link)
Thanks for reading!
Mofic Powered by LiveJournal.com