COLUMN: Holidays lose meaning, respect

Angela Oliver

I’ve never been one to throw religion in people’s faces, and I’ll keep my beliefs to myself. But it does concern me when religious holidays of any faith are exploited.

Wednesday, as my class was being dismissed, one of my classmates asked if the next class would be canceled since it was Good Friday. Then another retorted, “But I have to go home for Easter.”

It’s nice to spend time with family to celebrate whatever you believe. But when that becomes an excuse to miss class, specifically when it’s a morning class that likely wouldn’t interfere with traveling, it’s unreasonable to think canceling class is an entitlement.

Now, I’ve missed class before, most of the time for acceptable reasons, but a few times, like most college students, I’ve missed for reasons that aren’t excusable. Missing class strictly for convenience, when you’d still have ample time to travel, is not acceptable when you’re using religion as a cop out.

I don’t mean to diminish anyone’s faith; I cannot say who is sincere and who is not. But if our behavior demonstrates the opposite of anything holy during the rest of the year, I don’t see why Easter is such an exception. Does one day make that much of a difference?

And the concern doesn’t stop at individuals. Corporations also use supposedly sacred holidays to increase their profit. Greeting card companies, seasonal decoration stores, chocolate companies and even costume shops get a lot more attention during this time of year. Not to mention shoe and clothes sales.

Particularly disturbing is the Reese’s commercial showing a chocolate bunny and a jar of peanut butter moving closer together as Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On” plays in the background. That’s sacrilegious, but we allow it.

 Once again, I support and appreciate the hundreds of beliefs around the world. But, we are seemingly all guilty of condensing the meaning of holidays into a way to make money or give and receive gifts.

Don’t stop making Easter baskets or egg hunts for children if that’s an effective way of telling the story and making them understand. And don’t refrain from sending cards with purpose. I just encourage us all to keep the reasons we celebrate any holiday in mind and to always practice them with respect.