We will be celebrating all the obvious holidays on Mars, right? I mean, who could possibly skip the usual ones like Thanksgiving and Christmas? However, before we start making assumptions about continuing to celebrate all the usual holidays on Mars, we should consider that plans like Mars One are looking at a multicultural crew. Not everybody celebrates Christmas, and the basic idea behind Thanksgiving, a harvest festival, doesn’t even go by the same name in a lot of countries outside the United States of America.
Really, I would have no problem with religious-based holidays – and I know that some people might bash a specific religion, or religion in general. That’s not my point. Initially, we will probably have some form of Thanksgiving, Christmas and/or Hannukah on Mars, and I expect that my fellow future Martians who follow other religions or no religion will at least be tolerant enough to let others have their fun. However, as we begin to form our own society out of the original multicultural aspect of the Mars One mission and more permanent settlers begin to join us from other missions, it will not be very surprising if we begin to celebrate our own holidays.
Snippets from the Star Wars Christmas Special
This is the one that George Lucas wishes would just go away, so you know it’s bad. And it makes absolutely zero sense when you consider that Wookies would just be baffled by Leia singing a Christmas carol if they went by the strict canon rules that the Star Wars team developed in later years. Really this is just making my point: When you’re forming your own distinct society, you’re probably going to have holidays to match.
Some issues will include the length of the Martian year and conditions on the planet. Do you celebrate Thanksgiving according to an Earth-centric calendar, or just wait until you’ve harvested the first good-sized crop out of the hydroponics vats? Does it make sense to go out and hang Christmas lights on the exterior of your habitat when you’ve got a devil of a dust storm going on? With certain religions, which direction do you face when praying? It becomes enough of an issue that many Martians will eventually just throw up their hands and say, “Forget it.”
That won’t stop us from wanting to celebrate the good times. Major holidays will start evolving on Earth if only by sheer force of social pressures. I could name them “Founders’ Day” – the day that humans first landed on Mars – and also “Outdoors Day” – the day that dust storm season dies down enough that it’s safe to go outside in a spacesuit and brush off the solar panels. You don’t even have to think of it as work if you don’t want to. You can even make a game out of cleaning the solar panels and you can find a way to do it without damaging them. Throw in the Martian solstices and equinoxes and you have enough holidays to round out the Martian year without having to worry about sticking to an Earth schedule.
Seriously, I hope we can settle such a minor matter as holidays without fighting over it the way the Irish used to fight with the Catholic Church over the date of Easter. We can just agree that I won’t get in your way when you’re lighting candles if you won’t get in my way when I’m hanging a few ornaments on the avocado tree. Eventually, though, we’ll just have to recognize that we’re all Martians here and just come up with our own culture that includes holidays that make sense to our new branch of humanity.
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