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  1. Link the Writer

    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Would our religious holidays exist in the future?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Link the Writer, Oct 26, 2016.

    In my space sci-fi story set in the 2340s, I opened it with Helen musing on the small menorah on her table and the Hanukkah she celebrated a year prior (well, it's three paragraphs into the story, but still.) I had also planned for one of the other major characters, Lt. Heridon Copper to celebrate Christmas and sometimes later in the story, Helen ponders what he would like and even helps him decorate his cabin with a tree and Christmas ornaments.

    Question: would it be realistic for them to still celebrate their respective holidays in the 24th century? You'd think that after meeting the various alien civilizations over the centuries, they would kind of also incorporate their holidays into their own. To sum it up, is this realistic? Should they be celebrating other holidays?

    On a tangent, what of holiday/religious holiday music. If I had Heridon whistling Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer while at his station, what would you think? Would they also still be singing the classical songs or would it be better for me to make up new holiday/religious holiday songs they would sing this far into the future?
     
  2. halisme

    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, just they might be modified a bit. Consider that the Christmas tree was only introduced to Britain in the 1800s, same with the idea of the bride wearing white for her wedding.
     
  3. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hanukkah has been around for a good two thousand years, though many of its traditions aren't nearly as old, and Christmas isn't far behind in age, with the same issue about traditions. So yes, absolutely realistic. Maybe include a handful of new things to suggest a bit of evolution.
     
  4. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Unanimity requires compliance Contributor

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    "Greensleeves", which is the tune for "What Child is This?", is about four hundred years old, so I see no reason Rudolf couldn't survive that long, but as above, you might fiddle around with the lyrics a bit.
     
  5. WNP

    WNP Member

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    Maybe you could have one of the characters joking about how it was weird that even though no one believed in Jesus any more, they still kept up with the traditions.

    And I'd also tweak things slightly as suggested above; maybe they hang up space boots rather than stockings etc.
     
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  6. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Unanimity requires compliance Contributor

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    Heck, in Japan it's already a Christmas Boot, rather than stocking.

    [​IMG]

    Also, the Japanese people believe that fried chicken is a traditional Western Christmas dinner thanks to a Kentucky Fried Chicken ad campaign in 1974. Traditions can mutate fast.
     
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  7. terobi

    terobi Contributing Member

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    Well, I mean, Christmas and Chanukah have survived this long, there's no particular reason they wouldn't continue to do so.

    As others have said, though, the actual content of the holidays may change.

    As far as I'm aware, Chanukah hasn't changed a great deal in millennia, so it probably wouldn't be too different in the future. Judaism is an interesting one as religions go, because it wraps together so many other cultural, national and racial elements, as well as a core faith. Again, I wouldn't expect it to change a great deal, just as it hasn't for millennia (though as with anything else, probably a growing secularisation, and people doing things because they feel like they're supposed to, rather than because they actually believe in anything).

    Christmas is an interesting one, and you can well imagine that it would change a great deal.

    People have already mentioned that many of the traditions that we consider central to the celebration of Christmas are relatively recent - Christmas trees being introduced to the UK from Germany in the victorian era (and based on a much older pagan tradition), and both Christmas cards and Christmas crackers (originally as promotional bon-bon packages) being invented around the same time. In a very real way, the modern idea of Christmas is a mid-19th century invention. Similarly, pretty much all the "classic" songs were written and recorded in the 1940s and 50s, but are now inextricably linked with what Christmas is about.

    Considering Christmas has its roots in pagan traditions and rituals (the fairly arbitrary day was specifically chosen to coincide with the existing pagan festival of Yule so that newly converted Christians could still celebrate with their pagan families) and the traditions and practices vary greatly between countries (A few examples: Part of the "traditional" British Christmas includes the Queen's Christmas speech, started in 1932, and many particularly older people insist on making time in the day to watch. In Iceland, Christmas eve is traditionally dedicated to giving gift of books and spending the evening reading. In the Netherlands, Sinterklaas [Santa Clause] has a black servant called Zwarte Piet, leading to some pretty racist-looking traditions. Additionally, many of the Germanic countries exchange gifts on Christmas Eve rather than christmas day, wheras many of the Spanish-speaking countries exchange them on January 6th instead) and even individual families have their own traditions and ways of celebrating, I'd say Christmas will change rather a lot in the intervening years.

    Even in the last few decades, we've seen Christmas make a huge shift away from religious celebration, and towards a much more secular, commercial holiday. I'd expect to see that shift continue, moving away from "Jesus" as the central figure, and towards "Santa".
     
  8. Ettina

    Ettina Active Member

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    How old are our holidays already? Many Christian holidays are repurposed pagan holidays that are thousands of years old. So I find it plausible that we'd still celebrate modern holidays in some form in four thousand years from now.
    However, it's quite likely that our holidays will be celebrated in very different ways. For example, maybe your character celebrates a variant of Hannukah that is no longer Jewish, or something like that. Whatever cultural changes they've gone through will be reflected in how they celebrate their holidays.
     
  9. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributing Member

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    Probably. Even if we evolve past our antiquated religions, that cultural aspect will remain. I know plenty of people who celebrate Hannukah who don't believe in any gods.

    It may also simply transform into a new holiday if a new religion comes around. We still celebrate the Greek holiday of Saturnalia, it's just been reformatted as Christmas.

    It's possible a new culture will reappropriate all of the old stuff. If they forced it, it'd probably happen within a generation or two. The Christians did that, ever wonder why in the western tradition Jesus is a muscular white man with long flowing hair? It's because they took preexisting statues of Jupiter and just said they were of Jesus.
     
  10. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Random thoughts:

    I think that it's reasonably realistic for these holidays to still exist in three hundred years. If you said a thousand years, I'd be much less confident. However, I fear that working out exactly how they might be celebrated might involve a fair bit of research.

    A very quick Googling suggests that some of the details of Hanukkah may have been stable for a good deal longer than the details of celebrating Christmas--I believe that the Hanukkah traditions are pretty tightly tied to the religion, while most of the usual trappings of Christmas are largely secular. So I could see still having a menorah, while the Christmas tree might have been replaced by something entirely different. And gifts are not an inherent part of Hannukah, from what I read. They're not a religious part of Christmas, either, but they're pretty firmly embedded in the way that the holiday is celebrated.

    Also, neither Hanukkah or Christmas are the most important holidays in their religions. Hanukkah comes perhaps fifth among Jewish holidays, and Easter is a far more important Christian holiday than Christmas. That may not be particularly relevant, but I wanted to mention it.

    I find myself imagining a holographic Christmas tree, and tweaking with a computer program to produce custom holographic ornaments, but I fear that I'm just looking a paltry few years ahead of our own future there.

    I may have talked myself into suggesting that, yes, you make up another holiday, just so that you have a clean slate in deciding how it's celebrated.
     
  11. Rosacrvx

    Rosacrvx Active Member

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    True.

    To answer the OP's question, I personally don't think that Christmas/Solstice/Yule is going anywhere. It has been here for millennia, from pre-historical times. If I had to bet money on it, I'd bet it will still be around in 300 years. As for how it will be celebrated, I haven't the foggiest. But it will be here.
     
  12. Seren

    Seren Member

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    I think it all depends greatly on how exactly you're imagining the world at that point as to whether it would be realistic. However, as the others have said, most of the holidays have been around a long time. So, they would probably still be being celebrated. How they're celebrated, however, is down to you and the way you have shaped the world. You've suggested that quite a few alien civilisations would have been met, so I suppose their traditions would have merged with our own, resulting in altered holidays and completely new ones. Perhaps you should mention the new ones, if you choose to have them, alongside the old.
     
  13. EnginEsq

    EnginEsq Senior Member

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    A mere 300 years from now? Sure. But there will be changes.

    In our future world (almost 1000 years from now), most of the Christian churches moved the celebration of Christ's birth to spring (shortly after Easter, symbolically enough) to be more in keeping with the scriptures, and to distance it from the secular gift-exchanging holiday "Xmas."

    "Xmas," no longer tethered to religious belief, then merged into a 12-day winter solstice and New Years celebration, that peaks on New Years Eve. We haven't named it yet.
     
  14. antlad

    antlad Banned

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    Human nature is human nature. A portion of us will always look to/for something higher.
     
  15. Lonely Shadow

    Lonely Shadow Member

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    I don't thinks it would be plausible, but hey, to each his own.
     
  16. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    It's entirely dependent on your world-building leading from the present to 2340. You could make it realistic either way, so long as the ongoing history of the world supports it.
     
  17. terobi

    terobi Contributing Member

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    Why not? Christmas in particular has long stopped being a religious festival. Why shouldn't it continue in that form for the next few centuries, even if you think religions themselves will disappear?

    As an aside, I actually forgot to mention one of my favourite crossover traditions here: New York Jews traditionally get Chinese takeout on Christmas Day, as a holdover from the days when most apartments didn't have their own kitchens, and Chinese places were one of the few things open on Christmas.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2017
  18. Lonely Shadow

    Lonely Shadow Member

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    I'm not religious unless you count my love of Satanism.
     
  19. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Not particularly relevant to the question posed, however, which is plausibility not whether someone likes the idea.
     
  20. Commandante Lemming

    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think lots of people will still celebrate traditional days in the future. For one, culture is important. Two, days tend to take on significance even to those who don't celebrate them as religious rites (lots of irreligious people do Christmas - as does the entire nation of Japan, which isn't even a Christian society). Third, I may be biased here as a religious individual, but I've personally always found that idea of inevitable universal atheism to be hogwash - regardless of what you think of organized religion, I think it's highly unlikely that it will disappear entirely, especially if you're dealing with a future time frame measured in centuries rather than Millenia.
     
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  21. Sam Woodbury

    Sam Woodbury Member

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    I would imagine that Christmas,
    New Years, St Patrick's Day and the like would still be around, as well as Chinese New Year, Islamic holidays, or Jewish holidays, along with other alien traditions that they encounter. I wonder if these traditions will remain separate or if they will eventually merge together.

    As for Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer, it's hard to tell what songs would survive into the future; someone already indicated that Greensleeves is about four hundred years old, but most of the songs I hear at Christmas are probably less than a hundred years old. Mid-twentieth century singers like Bing Crosby, Burl Ives, and Perry Como have definitely influenced Christmas music, probably more so than more contemporary singers, but I have no idea if such music would still be as popular three hundred years from now. Some of the hymns that date back to the seventeenth or eighteenth century like Come All Ye Faithful (Adeste Fidelis) or Hark the Herald Angels Sing might be more enduring.
     
  22. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I could imagine some kind of bottleneck event wiping out whole swaths of them.
     
  23. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, I think it's realistic to celebrate current holidays too, though also realistic if they didn't celebrate all of them or didn't celebrate the holiday in the same way. For example, Santa didn't always exist and certainly doesn't exist in all cultures that do celebrate Christmas. The Czechs don't have Santa at all - they have Baby Jesus bring the gifts on the night of the 24th, not 25th. Santa wasn't always red - it used to be green - until Coke changed his image with advertising. Few people put actual gingerbread and burning candles on their Christmas trees now, though in the past that was tradition. Plastic trees certainly wasn't always a thing, but now there's an entire market for them.

    The Jews also didn't always eat Chinese food as a tradition for Christmas. The Japanese eat KFC as a Christmas tradition and it's seen primarily as a romantic holiday, not family holiday - Christmas is when you go on dates with your boyfriend. The Chinese regard Christmas as purely a commercial holiday, where all the shops are opened till midnight exceptionally, because that's the very day when you'd actually go out shopping with friends and perhaps a meal out with family. You don't cook your own lol. The Czechs have live carp ready for purchase and traditionally left the carp swimming in their bath tub ready for slaughter on Christmas Eve (or their version of Christmas Day), and the Christmas meal is the "feast of the golden pig" and children are told if you don't eat the entire day and waited for the Christmas meal, they'd see the golden pig.

    So, celebrating Christmas in the 24th century is realistic. Imagine how many centuries Christmas has been around already. However, how should Christmas be celebrated, and what cultural, societal, or religious significance it has are all up for debate. That's where you should get creative. Traditions change, the way things are done change, and who knows, perhaps there are no evergreens in the space station on Jupiter so what would your characters have for a Christmas tree instead? They'd still have a tree, but it'd be adapted to their living conditions and whatever plantation is available.

    Some songs will stay the same, some will change, and some will be new. For example, there's a modern version of Amazing Grace that has a whole other chorus to it. People will adapt loved classics to suit their own modern tastes. I heard an A Capella version of Angels We Have Heard On High complete with beat boxing. So how will melodies and lyrics have been changed, even if the song were the same or almost the same?
     
  24. terobi

    terobi Contributing Member

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    Bearing in mind this is a forum for writers, and a discussion topic asking whether religious holidays would plausibly exist in the future, you could probably stand to distance yourself from your own views when thinking about these things, otherwise you end up with a setting and cast of characters that are just flat since everyone believes the same thing and the universe acts according to the same guiding principle.

    Even if you wanted your main character to share your religious beliefs, you actually end up with better results if there's some conflict between, for example, their belief that religious festivals are stupid, and everyone else wanting to celebrate christmas, as compared to one where everyone else agrees immediately.
     
  25. ToDandy

    ToDandy Contributing Member

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    Yes if the religions still exist. If they don't then it's less likely depending on how far into the future you are. Perhaps they just stuck around based on tradition? It could really go either way.
     

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