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Is Celebrating National Holidays a Good Idea For Sikhs?

Comparison of Sikh and Seasonal Holidays Unrelated to Sikhism


Is it a good idea for Sikhs to celebrate the holidays of another faith? Should Sikh families celebrate local national holidays with their communities?

It can be difficult to avoid the influence of seasonal holidays which do not originate with Sikhism. Many local public holidays determine vacation days from work and school. Sikh families are exposed to holiday festivities by the media, in the workplace, at school, in the homes of friends and at retail shops.

When seasonal holidays originate with religions other than Sikhism should they be used to celebrate local festivities or is it wiser to commemorate the gurpurab holidays of Sikhism?

1. Is Valentine’s Day a Good Idea for Sikhs?

Spiritual Love
Photo © [S Khalsa]

Valentine's Day celebrated Febrary 14th can be traced back to ancient fertility rites involving animals sacrificed to Pagan gods. Cupid is the love God of mythology. Valentine's Day is attributed to 11 Catholic priests with the name Valentine. Modern day festivities include exchanging cards and candy.

Spiritual love is often expressed between Sikhs who are in love with the Divine Beloved. This is a kind of friendship which, regardless of gender, exists between souls beyond the realm of physical boundaries.

2. Is Easter a Good Idea for Sikhs?

Khanda in Sarbloh Batta Filled With Amrit
Photo © [Ravitej Singh Khalsa / Eugene, Oregon / USA]

Easter originates with Pagan goddesses and the reproductive cycle. Easter eggs and rabbits are symbolic of fertility. Ancient Pagan fertility rites involved promiscuous coupling during the spring full moon. The religious holiday  began with Judaism. Easter Sunday commemorates the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ and is a major Christian and Catholic holiday. Modern day Easter is a commercialized event.

Vaisakhi Day, the Sikh New Year, and origin of Sikh baptism occurs about the same time as Easter. Initiated Sikhs renounce ties to other ways of life.

3. Is Halloween a Good Idea for Sikhs?

One Jack O Lantern Two Smiles
Photo © [Courtesy Satmandir Kaur]

Halloween is both a secular and religious and has roots in ancient European Pagan harvest rites. Pagans sacrificed farm animals to pacify the spirits of the deceased at harvest time. Halloween and All Saints Day commemorate Christian martyrs and are a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics. Halloween is celebrated October 31st with costumes and begging door to door for candy treats.

Halloween and All Saints Day mark the 1984 Delhi Sikh Massacre following the assassination of Indira Ghandi in retaliation for her 1984 June attack on the Golden Temple.

4. Is Thanksgiving Day a Good Idea For Sikhs?

Curried Pumpkin Seed
Photo © [S Khalsa]

Thanksgiving originated with the Pilgrims of Early America and hearkens back to European harvest festivals.  After a period of starvation Pilgrims and American natives feasted together in celebration of sucessful harvest. Modern day Thanksgiving is traditionally observed the 4th Thursday of November as a family feast and including pumpkin recipes.

SIkhs get together during holidays for extended kirtan programs. Shared meals are a tradition in Sikhism known as langar and are served with every Sikh worship service.

5. Is Christmas a Good Idea for Sikhs?

Ornament Depicting Guru Gobind Singh
Photo © [S. Khalsa]

Christmas begins December 24th and lasts up to 12 days. The Christmas tree originates with Pagan Druids and sacrificial offerings. Father Christmas, Santa Claus and Rudolph are mythical Christmas figures. Christians celebrate the birth of Christ Christmas Eve though it occurred in spring. Modern day Christmas focuses on gift giving, seasonal sweets, and is a highly commercial event.

Sikhs commemorate the martyrdom of the four sons and mother of Tenth Guru Gobind Singh in late December. The Guru's December 22nd birth is observed in early January as per the Nanakshahi calendar.

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