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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/538

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

and commandments—which, however necessary as expedients, touch the truth only most symbolically.

The hint has already been several times offered that holidays, starting in the psychological way of reflex action, have had their growth according to the law of all growth—evolution, by which they have progressed from an indefinite, incoherent homogeneity to a definite, coherent heterogeneity. A caution must be interposed here, however, before the completion of the law is pointed out. It must not be supposed for an instant that the development took place in such distinct steps as might be inferred from the grouping of our historical references: that domestic festivals were completely or at all generally in custom before tribal or national demonstrations came into vogue; that only after these were current in an occasional way were harvest festivals held; and that not until the moon's cycle had been quartered did the recurring solar periods become associated with regular emotions. On the contrary, each of these logical periods largely overlapped the next, so that nearly or quite all of them have been contemporaneous in various degrees of advancement. We can only hold that, on the whole, the growth of holidays has been according to some coherent method whose outline is found to be the law of evolution.

The completion of the law is that with the increase and specialization of holidays there has been a concomitant loss of emotion, but that the retained emotion has undergone a like process from homogeneity to heterogeneity. This is seen in the fact that though the Africans and Polynesians show that holidays began as overflows of emotion, yet on ascending through the history of the Indians, Asiatics, Americans, and Europeans, festivals have become less demonstrative and more varied and restricted in their meaning. This fact gives us the key to the radical change which has taken place in the character of our modern holidays as compared with those of primitive man. As man became capable of quiet feeling and reflective thought, the various internal and external stimuli were less and less forced into reflex demonstrative action. He could experience joy and sorrow, bravery and hospitality, reverence and worship, with an ever-lessening muscular action. Most of all, perhaps, is the change due to the share of stimulus which went to thought. This is first seen in the difference between occasional and periodic holidays. The periodic days added to the pure spontaneity of occasional days the new intellectual element of association of ideas. Certain feelings came to be associated with certain phases of the moon or seasons of the year, the periodic recurrence of which revived with lessening intensity the emotions and reflex actions of the original event. The calendar festivals came to mean more; though they lost in demonstration, they gained in thought: free gladsomeness grew