During Easter Sunday, I spent the whole afternoon at my lola’s house with a bunch of my other cousins carelessly wading through the day by eating paella, cakes, sansrivals, and more paella. It was only towards the latter part of my visit when I was able to curiously uncover a huge pile of old National Geographic magazines dating back to the 60s until the 80s inside a cabinet in the old library. My wonder did not hold me back from pulling out random issues despite its brittle, dusty pages. One of the issues that I was able to get a hold off was one that specifically dated back to March 1965. The cover photo was this Spanish girl in this beautiful green dress. What struck me the most about this certain issue was that it was about the “Changing Face of Old Spain”. A sub-article inside it talked more on the Spanish city of Pamplona and a celebration called Fiesta de San Fermin, which was spent to honor their patron saint.
Characterizing special holidays to specific commercial products makes it easily adaptable to the changing times of society. As materialistic as the whole concept may seem, the reality of having to relate plastic pine tress to Christmas, chocolates to Valentines, or cakes and candles to birthdays, have forced people to buy these products again and again, thereby retaining in their minds a sense of obligation to remember the occasion. In the US alone, statistics have presented that Americans buy 33 million real Christmas trees annually, while they also buy 58 million pounds of chocolate as Valentine’s day approaches. Industries benefit the advent of holidays, and so commercializing these events should only be as convenient and beneficial to the growth of their institutions. Monetary funds are the blood of holidays, and they are the primary life-giving entities that carry festivals into being.
No, I am not referring to Yeah Yeah Yeah’s super catchy song. The “sacrilege“ that I’m referring to, as defined by Webster Dictionary Online “ [is] an act of treating a holy place or object in a way that does not show proper respect.” Commercializing holidays may sometimes lead to this act for 2 main reasons. First of which is that, primarily associating special dates to commercial advertising loses the luster and significance of it. Ask a kid today what first thing comes up to her head when you mention Easter, and surely one of the first things that would pop in their heads would be egg hunting. Easter in Catholic tradition celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus, and Easter egg hunting serves merely as a supplement to the celebration – sadly however, we’ve come to know the celebration because the practice. Secondly, the mindset brought about by festivals today revolves so much of what one can get and benefit from the whole celebration. People think so much of how much money they can get from partying with the whole barangay or how much more famous or well known they can get from generously offering what they have for the success of an event. For instance, the Santacruzan, a famous Filipino tradition that honors Queen Helena (hence the role name of Reyna Elena) and her son Constantine the Great’s expeditions in finding the True cross of Jesus Christ, traditionally showcased beautiful everyday women in their best traditional wear while parading around town, usually atop floats abundantly decorated with flowers. Santacruzans today are much more like beauty exhibitions, which comprise of famous personalities clad in their best designer filipinianas. It has turned into this commercial advertising where fashion designers yearn for credit while personalities aim for fame – which in my opinion is quite ridiculous.
Sometimes I feel bad growing up in a generation where Christmas matters because one may be getting new things from Santa and her parents, or that one celebrated birthdays because she knows she’ll be spending on lavish parties and eating tons and tons of food. I feel envious, every time my lola would share how important and how cherished traditional practices were, such as the Simbang Gabi where the family enjoyed the acclaimed puto bumbong and bibingka.
Now I ask once more: Are we really ready to give up having to spend time remembering the triumphant person, event, or entity that has been loved by the people in exchange for fostering a culture of commercialized thinking?
✿ Bea Ticsay ✿