This post is to spark a series on holidays. Mostly holidays that are celebrated in the United States, though it is possible I may expand into holidays celebrated in other countries. The main thing I would like to discuss is what are the holidays we have around us and whether or not, as Christians, we should participate/celebrate these various holidays.
While looking at these various holidays it will be important to take a look at their origins to better understand what is being celebrated and why. So it is not without precedence that we take a look at the history and concept of the word "holiday". Though the origins of the word "holiday" are traced back to an old English word "hāligdæg" we can agree the concept of it goes back much further than when the word we use was invented.
The word itself literally means "holy day" yet a religious event is not necessarily being celebrated on every holiday. On many holidays what may be celebrated could be any of the following: the anniversary of an important battle, the death or birth of an important person, the anniversary of a country gaining its independence, the founding of a city or town, the harvest of a particularly bountiful crop, or any myriad of other reasons. The point being that even though the day may have the title of "holy day" applied to it, it may not necessarily have anything to do with any kind of religious aspect other than the fact that it is celebrated every year.
The question ultimately comes down to, "Should we, as Christians, celebrate a specific holiday?" Well, this can be further clarified with the following consideration: Is it possible to bring honor and glory to God when observing/celebrating the holiday? If not then there really would be no purpose to celebrating it in the first place. You could also go so far as to say you could be at risk of breaking the 2nd commandment.
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Exodus 20:4-6
As we look at many of the different holidays we need to keep this in mind. Some may be easier than others when considering this aspect but, nevertheless, it is quite important.
Some additional points from the Westminster Larger Catechism
Q. 108. What are the duties required in the second commandment?
A. The duties required in the second commandment are, the receiving, observing, and keeping pure and entire, all such religious worship and ordinances as God hath instituted in his Word; particularly prayer and thanksgiving in the name of Christ; the reading, preaching, and hearing of the Word; the administration and receiving of the sacraments; church government and discipline; the ministry and maintenance thereof; religious fasting; swearing by the name of God, and vowing unto him; as also the disapproving, detesting, opposing all false worship; and, according to each one's place and calling, removing it, and all monuments of idolatry.
Q. 109. What are the sins forbidden in the second commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the second commandment are, all devising, counseling, commanding, using, and anywise approving, any religious worship not instituted by God himself; the making any representation of God, of all or of any of the three persons, either inwardly in our mind, or outwardly in any kind of image or likeness of any creature whatsoever; all worshiping of it, or God in it or by it; the making of any representation of feigned deities, and all worship of them, or service belonging to them; all superstitious devices, corrupting the worship of God, adding to it, or taking from it, whether invented and taken up of ourselves, or received by tradition from others, though under the title of antiquity, custom, devotion, good intent, or any other pretense whatsoever; simony; sacrilege; all neglect, contempt, hindering, and opposing the worship and ordinances which God hath appointed.
Q. 110. What are the reasons annexed to the second commandment, the more to enforce it?
A. The reasons annexed to the second commandment, the more to enforce it, contained in these words, For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the father upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments; are, besides God's sovereignty over us, and propriety in us, his fervent zeal for his own worship, as being a spiritual whoredom; accounting the breakers of this commandment such as hate him, and threatening to punish them unto divers generations; and esteeming the observers of it such as love him and keep his commandments, and promising mercy to them unto many generation.