Home / Do “The Holidays” Now Extend From Halloween to Valentine’s Day?

Do “The Holidays” Now Extend From Halloween to Valentine’s Day?

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Going into the local CVS on New Year’s Eve, I noticed every Christmas item on sale. I expected that to be the case, but right alongside these festive decorations were shelves of Valentine’s Day products. This reminded me of being in the same store back in October when these Christmas things were displayed right next to Halloween costumes and decorations. I have complained about this kind of thing before, but it just seems to be getting more common everywhere I go.

It makes me realize that “the holidays” – which once referred only to the time from Christmas to New Year’s Day – have become redefined, mostly by the retailers who have taken advantage of America’s need to celebrate these occasions and taken it to an extreme. It used to be commonplace to see a simple witch and jack-o-lantern in a window (that’s what my Mom did when we were kids), but now Halloween has become a retail juggernaut that rivals Christmas in terms of what people spend on decorations. I have seen decorated houses complete with animated ghouls and goblins that match amusement park standards.

Initially I could accept that “the holidays” extended to at first include Thanksgiving and then Halloween, but now they seem to extend right into February since Valentine’s Day has morphed into yet another day for which people decorate, buy lavish presents, and go to restaurants. I suppose it is good for the economy and those who rather give than receive, though the receivers are making out just fine as well.

The future seems pretty clear to me. One day we will be celebrating “Hallothankschristine’s Days” that will run from October 1 through February 14. It will be a nonstop time of decorations, celebrations, and endless sales in the stores. Faced with the inevitability of such a mutation of what once were individually recognized days, it could very well be that we just start throwing everything up at once, with Valentine’s Day hearts dangling from trees along with skeletons, pilgrim’s hats, and Christmas lights.

I guess we must face that the fact that this is now becoming a reality. With Easter and Mother’s Day looming on the horizon, I just wonder how long it will take for them to bring these occasions into the fold. Then we will have “Hallothankschristinetermom” or something like that. Throw Fourth of July and Labor Day into the mix, and then basically we can stay decorated all year long. Lights can blaze on houses 365 days a year, and we will reach the ostensibly foregone conclusion that none of these former holidays matter as much as the ability to recognize each day as something to celebrate.

Some of us then could become rebels and not decorate, refusing to be part of the maddening crowd, or we could start something like Seinfeld’s Festivus, which we only mark once a year by defiantly celebrating it on some day in the middle of the week. We could begin a movement, kind of like an Occupy the Holidays kind of thing, and then who knows how far we could take it? Maybe we will become so big that we will be the 99% someday, and at that point there will be only our one holiday and no more corruption of the original intent of celebration that was ruined by it becoming “a big commercial racket,” as Charlie Brown’s Lucy Van Pelt once astutely noted, “run by a big eastern syndicate.”

Until that time I suppose I will, like the rest of you, be inundated by holiday madness for most of the year. I’d wish you a Happy New Year, but apparently it’s almost Valentine’s Day, so I missed my opportunity.

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About Victor Lana

Victor Lana's stories, articles, and poems have been published in literary magazines and online. His books 'A Death in Prague' (2002), 'Move' (2003), 'The Savage Quiet September Sun: A Collection of 9/11 Stories' (2005), and 'Like a Passing Shadow' (2009) are available in print, online, and as e-books. His latest books 'If the Fates Allow: New York Christmas Stories,' 'Garden of Ghosts,' and 'Flashes in the Pan' are available exclusively on Amazon. He has won the National Arts Club Award for Poetry, but has concentrated on writing mostly fiction and non-fiction prose in recent years. He has worked as a faculty advisor to school literary magazines and enjoys the creative process as a writer, editor, and collaborator. He has been with 'Blogcritics Magazine' since July 2005 and has written well over 500 articles; previously co-head sports editor, he now is a Culture and Society editor. Having traveled extensively, Victor has visited six continents and intends to get to Antarctica someday where he figures a few ideas for new stories await him.
  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Great Article…

    To me, this is just evidence that any inherited celebrations from other cultures including the Pagans really have no place in a progressive modern society especially when those holidays included worshiping nature & gods based on ignorance. But, this evidence is overshadowed by the reality that our country has merely become a consumption machine. The stores wouldn’t have the motivation to lump this silly sh!t together had we not been so content on buying into it. When we finally realize that materialism really doesn’t benefit anybody, then & only then will we stumble upon the only holiday that should last all year and that is the celebration for a better quality of life & an unconditional love for all people. Because a holiday like that would be more than a Hallmark moment. It would trigger big changes in the way our world handles its issues!

  • Dr Dreadful

    Never mind Valentine’s. I went into my local CVS on the Sunday after Christmas and they already had Easter eggs out.

    In reality, though, we’re a lot better off than our medieval forebears, who are often thought of as leading a life of unrelenting toil but who, thanks to strict adherence to the various saints’ days and other Church festivals and commemorations, actually celebrated dozens of holidays every year, in addition to their regular Sundays off. Just imagine what our materialistic culture would have done with that lot.

  • Baronius

    The existence of holidays isn’t a bad thing. The commercialization of them is terrible, but there’s nothing wrong with holidays per se. As Dread points out, there used to be dozens of feast days – but there were also extended periods of fasting and penitence. I don’t see the local party stores pushing Lent.

    Oh, that reminds me of two celebrations you should have included in this article: Mardi Gras and St. Patrick’s Day. Like most of the others, they both have religious origins, but are turning into something else. They’re not quite as far along yet, but St. Patrick’s Day is rounding the bend.

  • Dr Dreadful

    The US must be the only country that celebrates another nation’s patron saint’s day, and that’s probably because there are more Irish people here than there are in Ireland.

    In Ireland, they mostly stay true to the medieval tradition of feast days, i.e. an excuse for a piss-up.

  • Baronius

    Actually, countries are surprisingly non-nationalistic about patron saints. Greece, Russia, and Scotland share St. Andrew. Martin of Tours was sufficiently popular as the patron saint of soldiers across Europe that his feast day of 11/11 was chosen for the Armistice.

  • I didn’t know that about Armistice Day, Baronius. I always thought it just happened to be around the time that the tactical defeat of Germany was complete, and was chosen because it had a nice memorable ring to it.

    St Andrew most likely never visited Scotland in his life (or Greece or Russia for that matter), just as St George never went anywhere near England. St Patrick and St David, on the other hand, were intimately connected with Ireland and Wales, respectively, which may explain why their feast days are a much bigger deal in those countries than their counterparts’ are in Scotland and England.

  • Baronius

    St. Andrew almost certainly visited Greece, or the part of the Roman Empire that was Greek at the time. I mean, if he missed an exit ramp, he would have ended up there accidentally.

  • Baronius

    Martin’s an interesting guy. He’s most famous for splitting his cape (cappa) in two and giving half to a beggar. The remnant of the cappa was carried around France as a holy relic. Small churches were built to house it, called cappelas, which is where we got the word “chapel”. The priest who carried the relic into battle was called the cappelin.

  • Dr Dreadful

    Certainly a versatile chap, was Martin. According to Wikipedia, he is, among many other things, the patron saint both of alcoholism rehabilitation and of innkeepers and winemakers.