Have American Values Changed?
Look at the larger picture to acknowledge, through the generations, how customs and values came to be and can be tied back to the idea that America’s composed of individuals, with their own ethnicity, customs, traditions, and opinions; honoring how they have been modified.
Certain traditions and cultures, and customs that immigrants and Americans hold, stemming from centuries ago, have grown to persist, grow and change over time in America; where these traditions and customs have glued and molded the way America celebrates and how Americans- though having vast differences, can be brought together through certain uniformity. The newer twenty first century’s exploding holidays and landmarks take on the past have became normal for America and have even became “Americanized” over time.
Think about what aspects of American values you hold as you reflect on a common scene that would serve to describe a certain set of values: it’s Christmas Eve growing up as a small child. You are walking up the steps to your front door, grasped to your mother with your small hand for support so do not slip on the iced over pavement under the dark magical night.
Your small body is bundled up in a coat that is so puffy it will fit you next season as well, but the annual family Christmas Eve feast hosted at your grandmother's home filled you up so much the coat fits the best it ever had before.
Your smooth cheeks are rosy red and through your chattering teeth, you utter, “Mommy! Hurry! We have to put the carrots out for Dasher and Prancer, they are going to be here soon! We have to feed them. Santa also needs his sprinkle cookie and milk in his special cup, or he won’t leave me presents, even if I have been good this year. I worked so hard, hurry!”
You burst through the front door and spill the milk running over to set the cold glass of milk down next to the tree in plain sight so Santa can easily see it. You spend all night twisting and turning in your bed, listening to hear if the wood floors downstairs will creak or if you will hear reindeer noises on the roof.
Christmas for most American children is the most amazing day of the whole entire year, if you had a child create a new calendar year for the world to go by, it may start and end with Christmas, it is that important to them. We live surrounded by tons of customs, but do we go out of the way as Americans to understand the true meaning of the customs or have we let the original meaning of some customs become tainted?
Most people normally accept them, but along the road why do we let our children leave the carrots out for Dasher and Prancer that we find ourselves sneaking down in the middle of the night to unwillingly take a bite out of, for the sake of the tradition? Is that the true meaning of Christmas, what happened to celebrating the true meaning of its origin, has Christmas in America became “Americanized” rather than paying respect to its pagan origin?
“Americanized” means to some extent, holidays are made over time to be distorted through the exploitation of the holiday and the realization that the holiday can be taken advantage of for capitalist gain. During Christmas why do we take our children to the mall with a list that will be thrown away to sit on a fake Santa’s lap? Why do we find ourselves dreading to go to church like we are supposed to on Christmas morning because all we want to do now is play with our new toy that is supposedly the hottest gift in America to give for Christmas? Why do we during Halloween find ourselves trying to throw the better bash to be at than our neighbors or spend money on a costume for our child to be happy each year come Halloween? Why do we let our children think a large, white, fluffy bunny will sneak into the closed house during the night to set up an Easter egg hunt? What happened to the truth America?
To your disturbance, you may have a bright friend who begs to differ that Jesus wasn’t even born on the date of Christmas or that bunnies are only small creatures who were branded as a face for Easter, what are we celebrating as we push back our doubts? If you were to tell a child this, to the child this new found way of thinking may make them feel like they just snuck downstairs to see if they could catch Santa...but instead, to their dismay, see the horrific display of their parents setting presents under the tree instead.
Christmas from your parents generation to now is much different, considering the amount to of which Christmas, and almost all other holidays, have been turned into big buck profits in the industry. Through the generations that have came to be and established in America before us- our parents, our grandparents, our great grandparents and so forth with the list of our dear family line, we often find ourselves reflecting upon their lives compared to our generation now in the twenty first century in America.
Reconsider your role in "American traditions" and how those traditions have changed throughout the course of history. When holidays become "Americanized" they are valued more in American society. For example, the "Americanized" holiday- Christmas. Not just limiting this example to Catholics, other religions or cultures can be incorporated under the large umbrella of American celebrations that are not originally American, but that have been brought to America through the movement of other cultures and people to America such as: Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Eid al-Adha and many more to incorporate other religions or cultures that have different traditions. Some religious acknowledgements, holidays and other celebrations have originated in places other than the United States and have over time been brought throughout the centuries to the United States from immigrants.
Due to the pre-existing traditions within America, although there is presence of different cultures merging into America- either assimilating or remaining identifying solely with their culture, in America, this is one way order is maintained through this unified concept that pushes putting aside differences.
Does this viewpoint of America as a whole circle back to the idea that America is a "melting pot" that has made it possible for holiday traditions to evolve and support a blending society?
The belief that America should be a “melting pot” and that people being “melted” together is the better way of American life and coexistence has shaped the way that we all combine together our traditions. In turn, ultimately, we turn away from the main origin and create a newer twist through time on our values we hold on what makes us an American and proud to be an American.