Three Cultures (Easter?)


Student 1—”This weekend is Easter! I’ll be with my family, celebrating, together… That’s what Easter is for!”

Student 2—”in [her culture], we celebrate all the holidays! Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, and some you’ve never heard of! Embrace all the belief systems, and celebrate all the holidays!”

Student 3—“in [his culture], there are no holidays—if you want to give a gift to someone, why wait? If you want to tell someone you care, why wait? If you want to recognize a special occasion, what does a calendar have to do with it? Every day is special! Every day is precious! Why would you limit yourself to a handful of days?”

I love having students of multiple cultures.

Comments

  1. stevko says

    I like the third answer. But there is this one thing I do not completely understand. Why I understand that every day is special (each is different from any other), why is every day precious? There does not seem to be any shortage of days. If universe is 13.8×10⁹ years old, then there have been that many times 365 days already and there are many more to come.

  2. Alverant says

    I like the attitude of #3 but IMHO the importance of holidays is that it’s a time where everyone* celebrates so you have a sense of community. It also helps businesses because if a great many people are going to want to visit their families on the 4th Thursday of November and the following day, then the businesses that aren’t involved in travel or food might as well not open at all. To paraphrase a line from the Incredibles, if every day is special then none are.

    *OK I don’t mean literally everyone, just a large segment of the population in a geographically defined area or a group.

  3. Cuttlefish says

    Stevko, have you had a loved one die?

    I have, and as a result I have no problem seeing each day as precious. If the universe is 13.8×10⁹ years old, then if I live a century, I have lived a tiny splinter of the universe’s life, and each one of my days in a splinter of a splinter. Rarity is no guarantee of value, but life is, I think, a valued commodity, and in this case, yes, rarity means that I have only so many of these days to call my own.

    “Many more to come”… I have no more to come with my brother. None. How precious is a day? You tell me.

  4. Shari says

    I am also short a brother. On stressful days, I look at my kids and husband, and think, yep, today is hard, but we are all here. I am sorry about your loss… It’s been a bastard for me :-(

  5. Stevko says

    I probaly should say only that I have no idea, how precious a day is, since I do not feel it is. The rest of this comment is kind of like “random thoughts about days and their preciousness” (is that a word?).

    Are the days that passed precious? I cannot get any of them back. Why would I feel they are precious?

    Is the next day more precious than any day before? I lived more than 10000 of days. So every next day is less than 0.01 of percent of the amount of days already behind me. And this percentage falls all the time. This could mean that every next day is less precious than any day before.

    I have proably more days coming than I have behind me, but if I was told that I have only so many days to live, I do not think it would change much, if anything, in what I do. And it does not mean that I have great day every day. And it also does not mean I have no great days. But both kinds just somehow happen.

    Sometimes (often?) I have a day that some people would say was wasted. For example if I just read blogs whole day. But it was good day, reading blogs was fun and interesting. I do not feel that day was wasted. It could be different, but was not.

    As for loved ones that die – I think it happens to everyone who has a loved one and lives long enough. But I am not sure what that has to do with preciousness of a day. Are days after someone dies less valuable? Or are days with loved one more valuable? Should I be every day with loved ones? All the time? Never going away?

    Is something wrong with me?

  6. M can help you with that. says

    Stevko —

    In terms of percentage of duration, a day might not seem like much — until I remember how limited they are. For the universe, sure, there are plenty — but I have a few tens of thousands of them. And “a few tens of thousands” is a rather small number.

    And let’s look at a person’s total extent — a day is more than ten million times as big an amount as my height. I may cover a lot of ground in the direction of time — but compared to my cross-sectional area in directions orthogonal to time, a day is immense. Hell, a second is. We’re all far bigger in time than in space; making the most of our duration is how we get the most out of our limited presence.

  7. Emu Sam says

    I guess it’s not so much a day that has value as a person-day. Anyone who doesn’t want to die places at least some value on the next day in sequence and on every day after that. The brother-days and sister-days and parent-days and friend-days that you have might be valuable to experience, but you have to spend you-days in order to get family-days, and that might only be a worthwhile trade in moderation. For some people, in retrospect, they incorrectly valued some days, or the days were correctly valued and they regret the lost opportunity to make more such valuable trades.

    I’m not sure that makes sense; I haven’t thought it out for very long. But I think I get where Stevko is coming from.

  8. jeffreylewis says

    I like the sentiment behind the third option, but I’m not sure how well it would work for many people in practice. It’s so easy to get caught up in our normal routines – going to school, going to work, doing chores, etc. Holidays force us to take a break from the routines that we might not otherwise take.

    I also like Alverant’s comment #2 about community and his implication about coordination. It’s easy to say, ‘we should all get together sometime’, but having Memorial Day when all of my in-laws and I have the same three day weekend lets the getting together actually happen.

  9. Healer Muse says

    BTW, which dates do most Christians accept as those on which Jessus died and rose again?

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