Posts Tagged ‘holidays’

Happy holidays

Saturday, December 24th, 2016 | Thoughts

Wherever you are this holiday season, I hope you get the chance to take some time out to spend with the people you love.

SAL December 2015

Monday, December 28th, 2015 | Events, Humanism, Photos

For the December event at Sunday Assembly Leeds, Dermot led an assembly on “traditions”.




The importance of Valentine’s Day

Saturday, February 14th, 2015 | Thoughts

I think Valentine’s Day is important.

At this point, you may well be thinking “I don’t need some stupid excuse to show my partner I love them; I show them all the time. I don’t need posts like this to make me feel bad because I ignored a Hallmark-created fake holiday”. If so, it’s important to remember that I haven’t said that I haven’t said that – that’s just your guilty conscience making excuses for itself.

It it not a holiday invented by Hallmark. Hallmark is 105 years old, and Valentine’s Day is 2,000. There is a whole history of it on Wikipedia. Even the Lutheran’s feast on Valentine’s Day. The Lutherans! These are the only people who hate fun more than the Presbyterians.

But even if it was made up by Hallmark, that’s not important. Obviously somebody made it up anyway.

In Religion For Atheists, Alain de Botton talks about the importance of ritual and ceremony. He talks about religious feasts. It is important to have one night of debauchery every now and then, to keep people in line the rest of the time. It keeps things on a regular, dependable cycle that stops things from getting forgotten.

Take presents for example. I could buy Elina a present any time of year. Sometimes I do. However, mostly I buy her big presents on her birthday, and at Christmas. I could buy her presents randomly at all times. But that would probably be annoying for both of us. The nature of random is that she might get three presents in one week, and then none for years, depending on frequency. That would be rubbish. I would then have to have a system of deciding how to handle the random frequency – humans are not very good random. Do I write a computer programme to do it? How do I balance a finite budget with the frequency and value of items?

Even if you do just randomly buy your partner presents, do you go to the same detail you would during the holiday season, or at a birthday? Do you wrap it? And how about everyone else, do you randomly buy presents for all your family to? I don’t. I buy as specifically ritualised times – birthdays, Christmas, when I am on holiday, etc. Having a ritualised system means that I regularly buy presents for my family without having to spend my entire life designing a complex system to track prepared spontaneity (which as we all know is the best kind of spontaneity).

Returning to Valentine’s Day. I am sure that you, like me, regularly choose to show your love to your partner in a variety of surprising and novel ways. Super, and I hope that continues for a long time.

However, we know that a) it becomes more difficult the longer a relationship goes on. If you are a friend of mine, that means that if you are married (you probably aren’t) you have probably been married less than 5 years. That means you are in the easiest part of your marriage, because that is when the romance is strongest. About the five year mark is when divorces peak.


I don’t know why this is, but there are a couple of reasons that seem to spring to mind. Firstly, in Rip It Up! Richard Wiseman talks about passion in relationships which is strongest at the start of a relationship and then goes into terminal decline for the rest of the time. If you haven’t built a strong and lasting relationship by the time it wears off, you’re fucked.

Secondly, it could be that after five years there is a good chance you have had children, which is a very stressful experience and can often break couples apart.

My point is that if you are in the early days of a relationship (and by early days I mean the first five years) that passion that drives you to show your partner you love them might not be there at a later date. There is no point denying this to ourselves, despite how bleak it may seem, that is what the studies show. Or it may well be that you are so busy raising children that you simply don’t have time to think about that stuff, because you are too busy trying to work out how exactly Chris Junior could even physically get his head through a gate like that, let alone how you are going to get him out. And how do his hands get that sticky? He hasn’t had any jam!

Hopefully, of course, you manage to keep the passion alive. However, Valentine’s Day provides a safety net. It provides a ritual that makes sure that you don’t forget to have a least one day of affection each year.

I, like you no doubt, hope to have many more a year. I hope to show my affection every day. However, not everyone does. And in a historical context, which is of course where Valentine’s Day evolved, romantic love taking the lead is a somewhat modern concept.

I don’t go out on Valentine’s Day because all the restaurants are full. Much better to take Elina out to restaurants on weekdays when it is easy to get a table. Tonight, we’ll be staying at home, I’ll be cooking, and we’ll be spending time together. Because it’s Valentine’s Day. Surely that can only be a positive thing?

Happy holidays!

Monday, December 29th, 2014 | Distractions

Oh, while I remember, happy holidays for eight days ago. Have a good one. Here is a picture of some snow:


Photo by Cynthia Yip.

A Christmassy Sunday Assembly

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014 | Humanism

For the December event of Sunday Assembly Leeds we did a theme of “festivities” including “Santa is doing his best”.

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Holiday Food Drive 2013

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013 | Foundation, Humanism

Thank you to all you wonderful people that contributed to the Humanist Action Group‘s 2013 Holiday Food Drive for local homeless shelters! As we round things to a close we are pleased to announced so far we have raised in-kind donations worth…


The donations went to three local homeless shelters and will benefit all of their residents. Thanks to your kind contributions a hundred people that would have woken up with nothing over the holidays will now receive much needed food, clothing and toiletries.

You can see all the photos from the event on our Flickr page.

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Christmas Octopus

Saturday, December 21st, 2013 | Photos


All hail the Christmas Octopus.

Boxing Day

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012 | Thoughts

Ever wondered what the etymology of the term Boxing Day is?

Given the amount of sport that takes place on Boxing Day, you could be forgiven for assuming that it was the day that traditionally was used to stage big boxing matches. But it isn’t. Or at least it probably isn’t, the origins of the term are unclear.

The leading theory claims that it was traditionally the day when tradesmen would collect a box of gifts from their superiors – hence boxing all the gifts up.

Day off

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012 | Life

What do you mean I can’t come into work today?!?!?

2012 Holiday Food Drive

Wednesday, November 14th, 2012 | Foundation, Humanism

I’m very pleased to announce the launch of the Humanist Action Group’s 3rd annual Holiday Food Drive for local homeless shelters!

For the past few years, we have staged a food drive to bring some holiday cheer to those less fortunate. You can read all about last year’s event here and 2010’s event here. This year will be no exception, and we want to make it bigger and better than ever!

We need…

  • Food (that lasts)
  • Toiletries
  • Warm clothing, gloves, blankets, etc

You can also donate financially, allowing us to buy in bulk, and indeed donate your time too to help us collect more donations and reach more people. If you want to get involved – get in touch!

We also have a Facebook event up and running, and you can find out more on the website, including how to donate!