Wednesday, 21 November 2012

winterval or humbug

Today is the German holiday of BuรŸ- und Bettag (Day of Repentance and Prayer) which marks a time reserved for praying real hard and reflection and hope of deliverance. Although the day off from work was mostly given back in order to help finance the short-fall in the pension and retirement system.

I think schools in Bavaria are out on this day, despite parents having to go to work, so they have to scramble a little bit to find someone to mind the kids and not all the mindfulness of the day is not totally ignored. The pension-gap is not quite bridged; however, it is amazing what a difference a day can make in either a spirit of solidarity or with the herd-instinct. Splashy, crass and reputed cultural differences aside (which I hope are exaggerated and not underestimated), it seems appropriate that the non-holiday falls on the second-to-last Wednesday before Advent—just before all the pressure of seasonal logistics, shopping, planning and travel, come to a boil. It ought to be about charity, peace, family and trappings (decorations and music and food) and most pressures relent when it becomes otherwise, surely. Another statutory day that’s a non-holiday that is coming up soon (back to the question of herding over solidarity with the option to give something back as well) is the decisive shopping day for American retailers, Black Friday, the day of big sales after the Thanksgiving holiday—and same, otherwise: Buy Nothing Day. Marketing and promotion has managed in some places to steal away a lot that is sacred, but the same kind of commercial guilt should also not be reverse-psychology turning us all into Scrooges.