Growing up I adored the holidays. We sang carols in school, followed by vacation and festive parties thrown by my parents’ European friends. The highlight of the season, and our key family tradition, was to walk down 5th Avenue and look at the various Christmas displays in the shop windows.
For me, my favorite parts were the rampant commercialism and the massive displays of conspicuous consumption. Christmas was never a family holiday, we never kept a tree in our Manhattan apartment and in my Jewish neighborhood nobody believed in Santa, a custom my neighbors explained was a bit of gentile foolishness for children who were too slow to notice that apartments had no chimneys.
For these reasons I never developed a deep abiding affection for the holidays. Many of my brown friends are thrilled that the season is upon us, talking about how they plan to make the holiday their own, putting a Khanda on top of a “Christmas Tree”, etc. And why not? The tree is an old pagan tradition that was only grudgingly accepted by the Catholic Church, all the best Christmas songs were written by Jews, and Santa Claus is Punjabi .
Personally, I’m more of a bah humbug kind of guy. Where I live in the Midwest, strangers answer your Happy Holidays with a Merry Christmas in such a way to make me want to declare war against it, or explain to them in a pedantic fashion that the early Christians didn’t celebrate Christmas because birthday celebrations were seen as pagan, and that most of the traditions associated with Christmas are either pagan (like the word Yule) or the result of fairly recent invention. With such stress, there’s a reason why cardiac mortality increases this time of year.
How about y’all? Are you grinchy like me, viewing Xmas as just a cheap travel day? Or do you have a sentimental attachment to the holidays and all their trimmings? (video after the fold)
I don’t think Baisakhi is analogous to Christmas. But generally the more compelling story in my opinion about punjab is the economic model is not sustainable. No amount of cultural cache can change facts on the ground. The economic position of the Sikh community after the end of Ranjit Singh’s kingdom and into the British colonial period is probably more responsible for whatever pre-eminence was enjoyed which privileged Sikh cultural aspects in Punjab.
Punjab’s economy is far too dependence on agriculture, as Navjot Sidhu recently said and others have noted for a while. That model is wilting in the mid west in the US, and can’t succeed probably anywhere. On of the big reasons people leave Punjab in droves is they have the money from agriculture to migrate, but that money is not going to generate new income. There is not enough industrial growth in Punjab and thus a serious lack of jobs. People can start to de-emphasize the importance of punjab, punjabis and Sikhs from the out-sized place they took in the past. That was a result of historic, mostly economic circumstances, and that time is coming to an end. As a sikh you have to learn to make it in Dehli, Bombay, Bangalore, overseas, because there is not much to make it with in punjab. And so any cultural cache that comes with being punjabi is at least in part off-set by being a new-comer and outsider in the communities where the jobs mostly are.
Additionally wanted to mention the preponderance of Sikhs in Punjab state has not really been the case for much of the time, meaning that living in a state in which sikhs constitute the majority or plurality is not the predominant position Sikhs have been in in the past, and probably the better part of many ideas that make up roughly “Sikh” ideas are those that pertain to a pluralist context
Wanted to add, that does not have to mean a waning of Sikh cultural activity. I think among those who enjoy, know about, and participate in Sikh or Punjabi culture writ large, there can and should be much vibrancy. Being multi-national can be a source of increase generally. It does mean though that maybe the community can recede somewhat into a background vis a vis it’s distorted importance in relation to other regions of the sub-continent.
@Sukhi I don’t wish my Buddhist friends a happy Hanukkah. I don’t wish my Muslim friends a happy Gurpurab. I don’t wish my Christian friends a happy Diwali. So why should people wish me a Merry Christmas when I’ve said something generic like Season’s Greetings? And in a capitalist country that believes in free enterprise, why should people petition and boycott big retailers like Target for saying “Happy Holiday” and not “Merry Christmas”?
I gladly and happily wish my Christmas observing friends a Merry Christmas. I just don’t like having somebody turn away my appropriate greeting and pointedly wish me another one. I have jewish friends who get very religious Christmas cards from their coworkers. I don’t think these same coworkers would appreciate getting cards about other religions’ holidays though.
The USA was founded by Christians who left England in part because they objected to the celebration of Christmas. I’m not being unamerican by contesting this issue, quite the opposite.
ps Vaisakhi was a harvest / new years festival long before it was a Sikh religious holiday, and it is celebrated in its original secular sense across Punjab. It’s like happy new years.
tne analogy does not hold with merry christmas in the us
the celebration of christmas in the 1700s has no similarity to celebration of christmas today.
not unamerican, just silly, which i guess is pretty american, if one thinks about it.
Honestly, except for the devotees of Malkin and O’Reilly, I’ve never heard of any American being offended by Happy Holidays.
Well, the devotees of Malkin and O’Reilly make up a huge segment of American society.
Personally, being a Christian desi, I like to find out what aggravates people the most, and then go with that decision. It is completely idiotic to be offended by “Happy Holidays.” Holidays is derived from “holy days,” its use seeks to include religion as a factor for the season. But, on the other hand, I love saying Merry Christmas to folks offended by that. I simply don’t get how that is offensive. I fundamentally I don’t view Thanksgiving as a holy day nor one woth celebrating, but when people wish Happy Thanksgiving to me, I don’t get offended. I was with a co-worker the other day who was an Orthodox Jew. Someone addressed both of us with “Happy Hannukkah” – I didn’t find that the least offensive.
Disney’s latest movie casts a Desi as the hero:
ennis, do you also suffer from increased risk of heart attack every friday because your workplace chose to give the weekend as a holiday, something that originated because sunday is the day of the lord which is the memorial of the resurrection of jesus christ?
2010: YEAR of the DESI AVATAR
On the topic of getting aggravated by hearing “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Crhistmas” – to me it seems like such a silly thing to get aggravated over, I get joy in working people up over it. The Germans call this schadenfreude (sp.). I suppose it’s in line with saying “Bah Humbug.”
Just felt like quoting Bart Simpson: “Christmas is a time when people of all religions come together to worship Jesus Christ.” Happy New Year!!
And thanks for introducing me to Goodness Gracious Me. It’s so good… I haven’t been able to get enough of it!!
blockquote>ennis, do you also suffer from increased risk of heart attack every friday because your workplace chose to give the weekend as a holiday, something that originated because sunday is the day of the lord which is the memorial of the resurrection of jesus christ?
If every Sunday, people walked up to him and said, “Happy Day of the Lord”, he might.
“If every Sunday, people walked up to him and said, “Happy Day of the Lord”, he might.”
Did it happen when ennis red Anna’s post