On Oct. 6, Seattle officials met to discuss changing the name of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day. With revisionist history revealing a more brutal side of the famous explorer, the idea seems fairly reasonable, but what if the idea stretched beyond that? What if it was time to update not just one but nearly all holidays?
Often in society, the holidays people celebrate can separate them. For example, while some people celebrate Christmas others may be celebrating Chanukah, Kwanza or Bodhi Day.
Christmas, a widely popular and controversial holiday in America, has songs and decorations that can cause others to feel left out and lonely, creating a divide between potential friendships. Columbus Day, the holiday being questioned, not just in Seattle but around America, is considerably offensive to certain indigenous people.
These sometimes unnoticeable ramifications can be seriously detrimental, especially during early development years. Children’s minds can be fragile, meaning emotional problems can hit them harder.
Childhood is a time of learning, both about yourself and the world around you. It’s also a time when humans are more vulnerable to teasing, pranks and other seemingly harmless emotional stress.
Differences are often attacked and mocked, sometimes causing issues that can last into adulthood.
Children who go through constant segregation or belittling because of their differences can become insecure and unsure of themselves. A lot of the time, they find themselves doing anything to fit in. As they get older, the pressure to fit in becomes harder and the habits, more dangerous.
From gossiping, to smoking, to sex, to drugs, so many individuals with the right level of insecurity will succumb to any pressure simply to enjoy the feeling of fitting in.
While diversity can be interesting and good, it can also have unintended negative effects. Someone may be offended by what another considers funny. Majority groups may unconsciously segregate against minority groups simply because they’re different.
With the years comes change, and with change comes displeased people. We can’t allow our uncomfortable feelings with change dictate what we deem right.
If we updated the names, and possibly dates of holidays to be more inclusive of all groups, it could light the way for a more connected and communal America.
There is no definite way to appease everyone. Certain religious groups, such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, don’t celebrate holidays at all because it is against their beliefs. Some groups don’t have counterparts for popular holidays and have no need to mesh them.
While most celebrate New Year’s in January because of the Gregorian calendar, the Jewish celebrate it in September because they believe it to be the anniversary of when God created the world.
It’s almost guaranteed that someone will always have negative feelings towards the situation; however, if we can eliminate some harm, isn’t that better than none?
Our holidays don’t need to be updated. Holidays are days dedicated for the celebration of events and people that significantly impacted the lives of everyone around them.
We all know that the world is constantly changing and evolving— that things are more different than ever before—that shouldn’t change what has already happened in the past. The most recent example of this practice is occurring with Columbus Day, a federal holiday that we’ve celebrated and acknowledged for over 148 years, only now, it’s been proposed that we update the name to “Indigenous Peoples Day.”
The thinking behind this proposal has good intentions to credit the Native Americans for the original inhibition of the Americas; however, many Italian Americans have stated their concerns for the name change.
For instance, many Italian Americans consider Columbus Day to be a symbol of pride to their heritage for such a momentous discovery. As we’ve all learned in our history books, “in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” That’s what we’ve learned all our lives, but we’ve also heard all about the Indians living on the land.
We’ve learned about Amerigo Vespucci being the man who should really be credited for America. When we get down to it, we really don’t know who actually “discovered” America. We weren’t there.
So what are we really celebrating on Columbus Day anyway? I’d say we were all celebrating what we consider important to us—that may be our Indian or Italian ancestors, the concept of discovering America, or just another reason to have a party.
In either case, by “updating” our holidays we would be breaking generational traditions, losing the importance and meaning behind historical holidays, and deteriorating the nostalgia of the holiday itself. If it was important to recognize and celebrate in the past, why isn’t it not now? It’s history. It’s tradition. Its memories.
Most of our holidays stem from hundreds of years ago, from our ancestors, from their customs and culture. We celebrate the past because it’s what shaped our present-day. We have no right to redefine their history. We shouldn’t compromise our memories to be “politically correct.” We can learn from the past to make decisions in the future.
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost
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