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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/537

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THE ORIGIN OF HOLIDAYS.

cycle by a ceremonial and emotional race was a most natural progress of their enlarging life. At the middle of the tenth century B.C., there were, besides the annual feasts of unleavened bread, harvest, and ingatherings, those of the new moon and the Sabbath; and these latter still retained their primitive characteristics of joyful days of rest and assembly. In fact, owing to the popular reluctance to class religious days, and particularly the ancient Sabbath, as holidays, "we can not refrain," with Deutsch, "from entering a protest against the vulgar notion of the Jewish Sabbath as being a thing of grim austerity. It was precisely the contrary—a day of joy and delight, a feast-day, honored by fine garments, by the best of cheer, by wine, lights, spice, and other joys of pre-eminently bodily import." So here the same objection should be met which was anticipated in the case of funeral ceremonies and festivals. All primitive religious ceremonies and days, whether they be in connection with ghost, fetich, or Nature worship, are of this spontaneous emotional character which is the essence of holidays. It is doubtless true that, when in the course of the development of a religion the spontaneity lessens, and with more expressionless feeling and calm thought the religious life of a people crystallizes into mechanical forms and creeds, then austerity and asceticism have dried up the holiday heart in church-days; but when the reaction comes, and the Church in fear and horror calls us to defend her acquired prerogative, we are assured, by such an inquiry into the origin of her days, that either the creeds and commandments must be periodically modified to the needs of human nature, or that mankind will find more radical vents for its spontaneity. The founder of Christianity saw the necessity in his day for the rebuke that "the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath." We to-day see that man has made his own Sabbath; being his own, he must not and can not be kept from his heritage.

This suggests the question, How has the direction of holidays come to be taken from the hands of the participants? The answer is obviously found in the course of differentiation and specialization which holidays have undergone. The domestic festivals, which included only relatives and friends, were at first purely spontaneous with each individual or circle. As the ceremonies became more elaborate and prolonged, the father, eldest son, medicine-man, or chief became director, until with further elaboration into fixed and regular forms of emotional expression, there arose the beginnings of a specialized class of priesthood. When they had obtained full control, there arose the phenomenon, remarkable in that it continues to our own day, of the priesthood's trying to formulate the reasons for the ceremonies and existence of church-days, and these efforts taking on the shape of creeds