Blog from St Chad’s

A quick glace at your diary will show that the religious calendar is slipping way. Ash
Wednesday and Maundy Thursday seem to have disappeared leaving only Christmas and
Easter worthy of mention. Instead a parallel calendar has developed, New Year’s Eve,
Burn’s Night, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, St George’s Day, April Fools, Father’s Day,
Hallowe’en, Bonfire Night, Remembrance Sunday, Thanksgiving, and the latest addition,
Black Friday.
Some of these had religious origins and have been secularised. It is interesting, however,
that this new calendar replicates exactly the same set of religious feelings that society
thinks it has outgrown.
Wherever you are on New Year’s Eve it is hard not to think about beginnings and endings,
sigh a little over mistakes made and hurts received. It is a time of death and rebirth, of loss
and renewal. (That sounds pretty religious to me) Under the froth of Valentine’s Day is a
celebration of one of the most powerful human emotions involving passion, commitment
and loyalty (all strong religious values). Mother’s Day and Father’s Day sound remarkably
akin to, “Thou shalt honour thy father and thy mother”! Hallowe’en may have been
overtaken by trick or treat and some rather strange costumes but isn’t there something
here about good and evil and the struggle between light and darkness? Remembrance
Sunday touches another religious vein; the sacrifice individuals make for others and how
the greater good can sometimes take precedence over personal survival.
All these things mirror religious sentiments and imitate the role of the religious calendar.
First, it structures time, turns the endless passage into manageable units, gives them
names and brings time under our control. Second it gives meaning to those days,
assigning to them emotions which are important to us, from sadness to celebration. Third,
the calendar brings us together with others so we are not isolated or alone, making
community, whether attending worship or singing Auld Lang Syne or standing together for
two minutes silence.
For those of faith our festive list provides a year long vehicle for the intellectual reflections
and emotional needs of individuals. It binds families together and creates community. No
wonder those without a religious calendar seem to be unconsciously reinventing it. Clearly
its’ values are more than religious people realise!

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