The Weekly Stripe - 04.12.20
This year, we are facing more Christmas questions than ever. Do we work around Covid restrictions to safeguard our holiday traditions, or reassess, reimagine and remix the festive period…forever? This being our first WS in December (in the age of Covid), we explore how historical events and social and cultural change have reshaped holidays throughout the years.
Though it’s been around since 1865, 2020 was the year large swathes of America (and the rest of the world) first became aware of Juneteenth, a holiday to commemorate the ending of slavery in the US. With the cultural shifts of the past year and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, there have been increased demands for the day to be made a federal holiday. We may be witnessing, in real time, the advent of a new cultural holiday. This article makes the case for Juneteenth.
Though it did not originate in the US, the US version of Halloween has seen a global explosion in the last 20 years, largely driven by social media. Halloween spending in the US in 2019 amounted to over $8 billion and, with social media as its biggest ally, its ghoulish grip on the world is likely to get stronger.
Not all holidays have found favour with time. Easter has seen a significant decline in its importance in the cultural landscape and has largely remained a religious holiday, never having attained the crossover success of being widely celebrated across religions like Christmas has. This article explores the reasons behind this.
In response to the Watts Riots in Los Angeles in 1965, Dr Maulana Karenga, a professor at California State university, created Kwanzaa in 1966 as a holiday alternative to Christmas for African-Americans and the African diaspora. According to Dr Karenga his intention was to “give Blacks an alternative to the existing holiday and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and their history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society”. In 2015, around 6 million people in the United States indicated in a marketing survey that they planned to celebrate the holiday.
Sometimes the human spirit is stronger than the prevailing cultural or social landscape. This article explores the many ingenious ways in which Christmas traditions were maintained in Britain during the World War 2 years. If Christmas survived a world war, one could reasonably conclude that it will indeed survive Covid.