Fill in the blank modern holidays

Father’s Day. Is it the day we remember the heroic martyrdom of St. Father? No… Is it when we remember the heroic sacrifice and fortitude shown at the battle of Father? No…

So is it at least a day with a paradigm of fatherhood that we can celebrate or rededicate ourselves to? No….

What’s happening in a wish for a happy Father’s Day? That it was a way to sell cards and increase consumption is clear, but the wish is not for consumption or card-buying.

The meaning of the day is designed as self-defined, i.e. what we communially celebrate is the collective blank we all confront after the prompt: describe what you celebrate in your father and/or the idea of fatherhood. On the one hand, there is a presumption that fathers are to be celebrated – and without this we could have no communal celebration at all –  but on the other hand what is celebrated is self-defined. By way of contrast, it would be absurd for a Christian to see Easter in the same way, or a WWI Veteran to see Remembrance Day as a blank space in which everyone fills in his own meaning.

The “blank space” is comme il faut for modern celebrations. The moment of silence is a blank space as is Santa Christmas, Pumpkin Halloween or candy-heart Valentine’s Day.

The blank space allows for pluralism and for self-definition of meaning, and in this sense it both ratifies a central modern belief and/or still meets our minimum need for collective activity. That said, it clearly comes at the cost of ontological depth. What one is celebrating in Rudolph-Frosty Christmas or Sweetheart Valentine’s is attenuated and abstract, and what once required a theophany now only requires a mood.

 

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