There is an odd but important word that has been popping up recently.
It is hegemony.
It seems that many movements in America are trying to establish hegemony. The group that has hegemony sets the norms for the rest of society, establishing which behaviors are expected or tolerated in our culture.
Hegemony is one of those words that once you hear it, you see it all around you. Will the norm be vaccination or not? Abortion or not? Cancellation or free speech? Everyone wants hegemony.
It shows up in some of the most interesting ways in the dullest places. For example, the group with hegemony creates the calendar and decides what we will celebrate as a culture—and what we will not.
What Rules Our Calendars?
One of the current rubs concerning hegemony is our calendars. The old Christian hegemony which has been in place since around the time of Constantine is in being challenged by a more secular one. There have been changes to the Christian primacy of the calendar. You could argue that the entire Reformation was an accident that happened because Luther openly opposed a practice (indulgences) that was being crassly propagated around All Saints Day. Protestants tried to free people from what they thought was an overreaching calendar hegemony, but in turn enforced a strict hegemony concerning the Sabbath. Neither Luther or any Catholic of the 16th century could have envisioned Christianity’s time hegemony giving way to the secular holidays that are the norm today.
My concern in this article is not to energize you to enforce a Christian calendar and hegemony on your cul de sac or to encourage you to tear down signs celebrating unbiblical secular holidays. I want to encourage you to begin the Christian hegemony of time in your heart and in your family. I am encouraging you to do this not only because it is joyful, but also because the more ties our worldview and practices have to Christ, the better.
Establishing a Biblical Basis
First, however, we need to establish a biblical basis for celebrating holidays. This justification starts with two things.
First, Jesus Himself celebrated a holiday that was not required in the Law of Moses. John 10:22 records that He went to Jerusalem for the Feast of Dedication, or Hanukkah. This holiday celebrated the success of the Maccabean revolt that allowed the Jews to cleanse and rededicate the Temple.
Second, Christians should expect to “Christianize” every area of life because Jesus is Lord of all. The Dutch Theologian Abraham Kuyper strikingly said, “When Jesus views every inch of the Universe, He says, 'Mine.' ” This means that wherever you are and whatever you do, it belongs to Jesus. Everything that is not in and of itself sinful is His. The Crab nebula is His and Clipper Magazine Stadium is His. The calendar is certainly His.
In light of these two things, and as we wind down this Christmas season and walk into a new year, we should consider how to embed our lives and our calendar in Him.
Let me start you with a few practical suggestions. While each of my examples center around the Christmas holiday, there are a myriad of other occasions of celebration throughout the year to which you can apply these principles of expectation, history, and fun.
Traditions of Expectation
Embrace one tradition of expectation. Half of the joy of a great celebration is the anticipation of that celebration.
Many of us don’t make as much of a practice to anticipate and prepare for Thanksgiving weeks in advance, but it is really fun to wake up on Thanksgiving morning and to smell the turkey baking.
Christmas, on the other hand, has a built-in expectation tradition of Advent that your family can adopt and make your own (so, too, does Easter, in a way, with the preceding Lenten season).
For Christmas, my family has embraced setting aside time to light advent candles around our table in the four weeks leading up to Christmas. When the girls were young, it was fascinating (and challenging) for them to light the candle. Each daughter lights the candle or candles each week. (Emily always lit the Christ candle when we set down for our Christmas meal.) Each week the anticipation would grow. Now, as our girls are older, each time we light these candles it stirs the memories of Christmas past. Advent calendars also help children anticipate as they count down to Christmas.
Traditions Rich in History
Look back to find tradition.
Perhaps you don’t want to get back before the time of the Reformation and celebrate St. David’s Day with the Welsh. On this holiday, Welsh people drink water and eat raw vegetables. (I wonder why this day never caught on?)
Historically, Christians celebrated 12 days of Christmas (that’s where we get the song). Now, you might not be able to afford five golden rings, but you can celebrate the end of the season: Epiphany. This day, January 6, commemorates the visit of the Wisemen to the Christ child. It is a great day to join together with churches that celebrate by feasting and singing, or by having a feast of your own and reading about the visit of the Three Kings. One fun tradition that blesses the day is to make a “King Cake”. Traditionally, the cake is baked with a small figure of a baby Jesus was baked into it. The child that found the Christ child in their cake would win a prize. (If you want to avoid baking Jesus for theological or choking concerns, you can substitute a dried bean or an M&M!)
Traditions Full of Fun
Discover one fun tradition this year that is just your own!
In our house, we have a tradition called the Dip Train. On one of the nights before Christmas, we set up a few fondue pots and cut up a bunch of beef, chicken, pork, and shrimp. We place different dipping sauces in containers in the box cars of a toy train. We run the train track around where the diners will be seated. When you cook a piece of meat you get to move the train to your area and carefully dip your meat in the sauce. We listen to Christmas music while we run the train.
This tradition is not for the faint of heart - and please don’t try this if your children are grabby - since it can certainly make a mess or worse if the hot oil gets overturned! This is just an example of something that we made up to make the season more fun for our family. Now, every Christmas, we get to answer questions from our girls like “what night is the dip train?” Someday we hope that grandchildren are asking the same question!
Christ's Hegemony In All Things
Hegemony begins in our hearts and in our homes. Christian hegemony is not something that seeks to cancel or to force conformity. It runs on joy - the joy of a God that loved sinners so much that He sent His only Son to redeem them.
Hegemony, however, does not end in our hearts and homes. It invites others to gather around the table, to listen to the story, and to put their faith in the source of all real joy. That sort of joy is not just attractive, it is addictive.
Always remember. Joy wins.
As a school, one of our core values is that we are "Tradition Affirming." This refers to our commitment to the great traditions of the Church and of classical learning in the Western world, but it also means that, just like the meaningful and quirky traditions our families have (like the ones mentioned here), we as a school have nurtured various traditions over time that form our year and curriculum, adding memorable benchmarks and significance to our students' learning experience.
These traditions underscore the hegemony of Christ in all things at Veritas. He is sovereign in every subject, honored in each discipline, glorified in the joy and laughter as much as the perseverance and diligence. From our administrative offices to every teacher and staff member, the community at Veritas is committed to recognizing and celebrating the wonderful sovereignty of God. The hegemony of Christ is shown as classes marvel at God's beauty and order in math, as they peel back layers of meaning in great literature, as they walk through history and witness nations rise and fall, as they examine the intricacies of molecules in chemistry, and as they reflect His creativity in the arts.
If you're not currently part of the Veritas Academy community and you would like your child to have a classical education that is guided by Christ, we invite you to experience the wonder and uniqueness of our school with a tour! We would love to meet you! Click the button below to learn more and sign up for your Veritas visit!