Days of Obligation
By A. Curmudgeon
Catholic or not, if you grew up in the Boston area, you were well aware of Holy Days of Obligation, those six days on the church calendar, to say nothing of each Sunday, when, to avoid committing a mortal sin, you were required to attend Mass .
In recent years, I have come to call fifteen calendar days the “Social Days of Obligation”: New Year’s Day, Super Bowl, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Fourth of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve. Of course some of these days have long been familiar, but new ones abound. Through a variety of pressures, but I suppose mainly advertising and other media, on all those days we are supposed to be enthusiastic celebrants. We are to gather in large groups, prepare and consume mounds of food (often traditional) , and spend money on themed paper goods and decorations. Even M and M’s, Peeps, and Oreos have holiday -related editions. This sense of obligation , in many cases for what used to be lesser days, is reinforced by the fact that everyone seems to ask, “What are you doing for ________?” or worse yet, “What did you do for _____________?” One of the best examples is Super Bowl Sunday, but others rank right up there. I won’t go into detail, but one Mother’s Day with not a call, not a card, as I was out in my backyard, my next-door neighbor, a young man, came out and said, “How’s your Mother’s Day?” and I promptly burst into tears.
Anyone who does not have a group of friends and family with which to celebrate these occasions can begin to feel like a social outcast. There’s a bit of a break in summer, but you’d better host or at least attend a BBQ if you’re to participate in Show and Tell.
© Dorothy C. Judd
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