Holidays, holy days, and Vikings
by Matt Archbold
From the moment we had children —well, technically from the moment my wife had children and I fell asleep in the hospital chair —they’ve been the focus of our lives, and we’ve given of ourselves without expecting anything in return.
Even taking them out to the store with me was like being a celebrity hangeron. People approached us to speak with the precious little babies and ask them questions about how they’re sleeping and eating and if they’re happy all the time. The babies wouldn’t even answer, so I’d have to.
Nobody approaches me now that I have teenagers. Just a note: My answers are all still the same. They’re still sleeping erratically, not eating consistently, and laughing one minute and crying the next. So really, nothing’s changed.
But from the moment you have children, your life is refocused. Throughout our society, everything is geared toward children. Even our holy days and holidays have somehow been reimagined as child-friendly sugar-bomb buffet days or gift-receiving paloozas.
It’s an amazing societal shift that puzzles everyone. Think about it. If aliens visited our planet, they’d have every reason to believe that children were the overlords of this world and we were their willing servants. They’d assume that holidays were just days where we did our jobs better.
Let’s look at how all the holidays have been transformed into days about kids. Christmas? We are celebrating
the fact that God became man! The birth of our Savior. This is sort of a big deal for Catholics. Normally, when celebrating someone’s birthday, we acknowledge the one whose birthday it is. But somehow it’s become about all the other kids receiving gifts, and Jesus is pretty much ignored by most.
Easter? Jesus was crucified, died, was buried, and then did a little thing called RISING FROM THE DEAD. And how does that get celebrated? Kids get chocolate!
We’ve gotten to the point where even when a tooth falls out of a child’s mouth, our kids collect cash. Do we really want to encourage children losing their teeth? Nobody gives dads anything when our hair falls out, and it doesn’t ever grow back.
Here’s a fun fact: The practice of giving money to children for their baby teeth probably started with the Vikings. Children’s teeth were believed to bring good luck in battle, so the Vikings created necklaces from them. Now there’s a nice arts and crafts idea for the fam. Make a necklace out of your children’s teeth and then plunder the neighbors. Remember, a family that slays together stays together.
The point is that somehow even the great Vikings’ celebrations turned into a monetization opportunity for children.
But it gets crazier.
Halloween? I know everyone says Halloween was created by pagans and druids, but let’s be honest: druids made merry over everything. On top of all their solar festivals and seasonal jubilees, they literally celebrated the end of pretty much every month. No wonder they were wiped out. They were probably taken over by baby-tooth-necklace-wearing Vikings who never took a day off. (Not an actual representation of known history.)
Halloween actually falls on the last day of October because the Solemnity of All Saints, or “All Hallows,” is on Nov. 1. The exact origins of the holy day are not certain. However, in the ninth century, Pope Gregory IV declared that All Saints would be observed worldwide.
But somehow, and stay with me here, somehow the day before this Catholic holy day became all about … kids wandering around the neighborhood demanding treats under threat. (Hey, sort of like the Vikings!)
But the point here is, what is going on? How did they arrange this brilliance? What magic lamp did children rub to make their every wish come true? Any lobbyist or public relations man working to leverage their client’s positioning could only dream of doing about 0.000003 percent as well as children have done for themselves.
I think Columbus Day is slowly being canceled, not because of anything Christopher Columbus did but because kids can’t figure out a way to make it a binge-tastic day of caloric consumption of Ninas, Pintas, and Santa Marias made out of Snickers bars.
To be clear, I’m not jealous. I was a kid once. I had my day. And to be honest, kids go to bed every night. Any candy I want is there for the taking.
And their addiction to Easter candy is the most useful threat to make them keep their grades up and stop hitting each other with the remote control. “Act like normal human beings or I’m throwing out your candy!” This usually inspires at least a few minutes of good behavior. And you thoughtholy days don’t make children better!
But here’s the shocking thing: All those years of giving of ourselves sometimes actually leads to these same children learning not just about receiving, but also about giving. Seeing the older children offer to drive the younger ones to a friend’s house or teach them how to dribble a basketball between their legs or just help them with their homework is our payoff. And it’s so much sweeter than candy.