Celebrating Twice
16 January, 2014
Celebrating Twice
I know what faith means, and I respect people’s sense of preference for religious belonging. I do not go to church, but that does not mean that I am an atheist. I was brought up as a nonbeliever but I would sooner say that there is God than not, although I am more inclined to respond undecidedly to the question about God’s existence, which probably makes me an agnostic rather than a convinced believer. Whatever I make out of my
wretched self, I treat with an unambiguous respect any faith, any cult, any religion that man wanted to perpetuate in thousands of years that our civilization is counting. I was born into a communist’s family.
My dad was a registered member of the soviet communist party. I was too in my own time, and my party membership card is still stashed away somewhere as a sad souvenir of those depressing times. I have done my possible best to become a good Christian and let Christ come into my heart and mind. I swear I tried hard, and I am still trying. Let me desist my religious openness here and stop sharing with you how far I have gotten into our orthodox belief. Actually, my most cherished faith is associated with the freedom of human will in the first place and then with rationality of human reason in general. To feel myself happy, I need to be reasonable and to have to do with reasonable humans. Anything irrational and off kilter irritates and depresses me. I might throw in myriad examples of irrational human behavior that are commonplace here in Georgia, but right now I would rather concentrate on our national tradition to celebrate Christmas and New Year twice a year. Why does this make sense? Why do we have to be toasting to New Year twice a year with the real-time difference of only a fortnight? Once it is done at midnight of the 31st of December and then at midnight of January the 13th. Same would happen in case of Christmas – 25th of December and 7th of January. The explanation happens to be simple and clear – the second celebrations go in compliance with the Eastern Orthodox Liturgical Calendar, which is dictated by the rhythm of the life of the Orthodox Church. I absolutely honor that! What I can’t understand and accept is the binary celebration of those two big events. Why couldn’t the dates be brought into the compliance with what the rest of the civilized world is doing? Or to be more straightforward, if we want to live by the Eastern Orthodox Liturgical Calendar, let us do so and be done with the inconvenient duality. The fact of our celebrating the holidays twice is a vivid example of contradiction between what the State and the Church are doing. I know that the Church and the State are separated, but why to be distanced that much? All those calendars are man-made and they could be adjusted by man, couldn’t they? I don’t know how many people want to celebrate the same big winter holidays twice a year, but I have often heard the deprecating comments about our Double-Christmas-New-Yearing. Twice-greeting, twice-wishing, twice-gifting, twice-decorating, twice-toasting, twice-hugging, twice-kissing, twice-surprising! Why? Isn’t this an example of slavery to tradition? Traditions are invented by people, and the selfsame people can alter them if they need to introduce those alterations at some point in time. Would this be a crime? Who needs the traditions which are so cumbersome to observe? I personally call it the humanization of a tradition and liberalization of our attitude towards what we call a tradition. Flexibility and reason is good in any human activity. Stiff and uptight approach might be terribly detrimental. So why not be good enough to make our way of life adjustable according to circumstance? Let us celebrate the reason, not just the tradition that is not reasonable! Let us celebrate both Christmas and New Year with the rest of the civilized world and then continue working on our wellbeing as the rest of the civilized world is doing. Why are we killing ourselves to elbow our way into the depth of Europe if we want to stay out of it in reality? Why are we working so hard on becoming Europeans, but continue doing as the Russians are? What will happen to general happiness of the Georgian people if we start celebrating Christmas and seeing the New Year in just once a year, not twice? Will our faith in God and the decency of our human behavior be crippled by that? What are we going to lose if we stop those double celebrations? Why can’t we dedicate our time, energy and wealth to something that is more reasonable and valuable? And again, I am ready to fully respect the feelings that are connected with faith and belief and tradition, but why should we give faith and belief and tradition a chance to make our lives uncomfortable? Let us say Merry Charismas – once a year! Happy New Year – once a year! Not twice!

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