In the due course of growing up, holidays have been one of the most interesting parts of my life. In fact, it is pretty similar for every student I have come across. After the monotonous routine of attending schools and tuition class non-stop for five days every week, I have looked forward to the weekends like a traveller looks forward to an oasis in a sunny desert.
All year round, my entire class eagerly anticipated for the handful of assured holidays as marked in our school diaries. The national holidays- republic day, Independence Day, and Gandhi Jayanti- were certain messengers of sheer joy. At the beginning of every academic year, we sat down to curiously calculate which holidays fell on which days (secretly wishing for long, or extended, weekends on which we could pack our bags and go for small trips) and counting how many off days did we have each month.
Apart from these, there are also regional or religious holidays which vary from one part of the country to another. There are also certain institutional occasions on which leaves are given solely to the employers or students of that specific institution. However, in this present age of increasing globalisation, we have ceased to understand the significance behind these holidays, and only aim to exploit the change in our mundane lives which are brought along with them.
If I could create a new holiday, I would create one called the Family Day. Today, as joint families have disintegrated to create more and more nuclear families, we have stopped realising the importance of the word ‘family’, and its indispensable importance as an institution in itself.
Therefore, the main purpose of this holiday will be to rejuvenate the importance of families and the need of the family members to spend some quality time with each other- which this holiday’s objective shall be.
This holiday shall be universal, that is, will be uniform over all nations and among all nationalities, thus transcending the barriers of religions, caste, class, gender, and ethnicity or any such differences.
In this way, this holiday would also try to instil a common sense of solidarity among everyone and provide them with an opportunity to identify their selves with the larger society they are a part of. Therefore, Family Day will not just be another casual vacation, but will play an instrumental role in making all the citizens inculcate a feeling of shared oneness.
Family is derived from the Latin word ‘familius’, meaning household. It was adopted into the English language during the latter part of the middle age. Our family shapes our identity in uncountable ways, beginning from right the time we were born to the time we take our last breath.
What (or who) our family is depends upon certain circumstances, and the stage of our life we are a part of at that specific moment. Usually, every student’s immediate family consists of their parents, and their siblings. But if one’s joint family is to be taken into account, then there is a high probability that the extended family will include one’s grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins from both the sides of their family (paternal and maternal).
It is a given notion, that in today’s world that we cannot be in constant touch with so many people at the same time. Physical contact has been now replaced by the increasing digitalization, and therefore, many of our only sources of communication with our extended families are merely in the form of Facebook updates, WhatsApp messages, or Skype calls.
The holiday of Family Day will primarily want people to put everything aside and come together in person to celebrate the feeling of interpersonal love and their bond as a family.
There shall be no fixed day for this holiday. This will be implemented this way because spending time with one’s family must not be forced on someone. It shall occur to one voluntarily from their within, and therefore, fixing a particular day of the year to commemorate this celebration shall be equivalent to compelling people to come together, which can be otherwise done on common occasions like birthday parties, marriage anniversaries, etc.
However, at the same time, not fixing any date will create a mass ambiguity about when or how Family Day should be celebrated. Therefore, one way through which this issue can be resolved is fixing a particular day within a given period of time. To simplify the previous statement, I shall give an example here.
Suppose, it can be notified to all that Family Day will be celebrated on any of the Mondays in the month of June. Therefore, anyone can take a leave on the account of the same only on one Monday of that month, and that shall be granted as their Family Day holiday.
Also, it is advisably good to make this system the same throughout the world, so that if family members want to come together from across different cities can do so conveniently.
On the occasion of Family Day, all schools, colleges, and other institutions shall be closed, and people shall be encouraged to spend a day off all social networks and other such platforms, and come together and celebrate the day as a family, and not in mere isolation.
Another useful suggestion would be to not allow people to have any academic or work-related assignments home on that day, so that they have no projects at bay which can distract from properly cherishing the holiday. There shall be certain discounts available at different malls, restaurants, amusement parks, and other places meant for mass enjoyment, which can be redeemed only by families. Therefore, an economic angle can also be incorporated into this celebration, which might contribute to its smoother facilitation.
Other such options could be the options of discounts on short trips or drive-in hotels, etc. However, it shall be kept in mind that no matter what the incentive is, at the end of the day, nobody can be compelled by another person to enjoy, or have fun, as that is purely triggered by one’s internal dispositions.
It can only be expected that the need to understand the importance of one’s family (and family members) will increase and strengthen over time, perhaps by repeated habituation, or maybe through the mere exposure effect (thus employing psychological perspectives for how to fulfil the aims of this day).
In this context, a frequently asked question might be- what is the need to celebrate this holiday? To answer which, one might need to understand the increasing stress every individual has to face in the present society. Family Day will not only detoxify people and grant them one day of absolute relief and stress-free enjoyment, but it will also remind them their identity.
As we have seen in the famous book ‘The Namesake’, often, in the present era of individualisation, we face a situation of anomie, where we are unable to locate ourselves, or synchronise us with the identities imposed on us. One day where we are expected to go back to our families- the people who know us the best- might imbibe certain forgotten values into us, and gift us with a renewed purpose or interest in life.
It is understandable that the entire prospect of celebrating Family Day might seem Utopian, or even, somewhat futile to many people. But one needs to realise that through this holiday, nation might strive to achieve something much larger at stake, the integration of people into one society through a collective feeling of consciousness.
The famous sociologist Emile Durkheim had extensively worked on the difference between primitive and modern societies, and he discovered that the organic solidarity of the past enabled an increased sense of unity and reduced competition (obviously, unlike the present) through shared interests and not interdependence.
Thus, by reminding people who they really are, and where they belong, Family Day, as a simple holiday, might achieve a much larger goal than what seems obvious. And needless to say, who minds one extra addition to the list of holidays, right?
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