I was told that when the former Lord Mayor of Melbourne, the Hong Kong born John So, was asked about the meaning of Australia Day to him, he said, "It's a holiday". Ironically, public holidays are accorded to commemorate events which are significant to the society, religiously or historically.
However, over time, the significance or meaning of these public holidays are less appreciated although a day or two off from working could be a huge relief to many of us. On top of this, commercial interests have turned many public holidays into opportunities for businesses to churn hugh profits. Many religious-related holidays are now becoming shopping seasons with less and less emphasis on the original aspects of the events. Sometimes, the activities in the holiday seasons contradict the essence of the celebration themselves.
On the other hand, these significant events are celebrated in form has taken rather than celebrating their substance. People are more concerned in displaying how involved they are in celebrating or remembering rather than living or demonstrating the essence of what are being remembered. Many people will lead processions whenever events which symbolise values or beliefs but never practice those values or beliefs themselves. Some see this as opportunities to be popular among their communities.
For example, Muslims believe that Muhammad s.a.w. it the last prophet who will lead them to salvation both on this world and the hereafter. Muhammad s.a.w. has four attributes; truthful, honest, communicative and smart. How many of his followers who lead processions without fail annually who could demonstrate these attributes?
The society on the other hand could also be part of this issue. Over time, we associate holidays as a way to respect our values or beliefs rather than ensuring those values and beliefs are applied on daily basis. We keep on asking for more holidays and care less whether such break form work really enable us to externalise the meaning of what being celebrated.
Can we propose a better approach in celebrating events, values and historical moments in the future? Let's make the substance of what we celebrate more meaningful rather than the form of the celebration.