From Jeff Shaumeyer on Facebook, this plush Xmas Peep (an XChick?):


A holibolup, a holiday/symbol mashup.

Horrified reader: I find the idea of a Christmas peep offensive. Next we’ll have werewolves with Valentines, groundhogs with Easter baskets, and leprechauns with sparklers. Where does it end??

Jeff: It doesn’t! What great ideas!

You find those offensive? We could easily get into real sacrilege here. Imagine one of Santa’s elves bleeding on a cross. A crazed knife-wielding Virgin Mary. Or the Three Wise Men adoring a grinning pumpkin child in the manger. That sort of thing.  Groundhogs with Easter baskets and leprechauns with 4th of July sparklers are positively charming. (Krampus biting the heads off Peeps not so much.)

The roots of holibolup. The holi- of holiday, the -bol of symbol, the -up of mashup. Tossing around holy stuff. From NOAD:

noun holiday: ORIGIN Old English hāligdæg ‘holy day’.

noun symbol: ORIGIN late Middle English (denoting the Apostles’ Creed): from Latin symbolum ‘symbol, Creed (as the mark of a Christian)’, from Greek sumbolon ‘mark, token’, from sun- ‘with’ + ballein ‘to throw [or toss]’ [as in ballistic].

Not that groundhogs, leprechauns, or Michael Myers with a knife are holy things.

The inventory of holiday symbols. Whatever their origins, most people most of the time experience holiday symbols as elements of a rich popular or folk culture, acquired over some period of time in childhood, by word of mouth or (in modern cultures) through the media, entertainment, and advertising.

Children are instructed in the systems of symbols during the passage of a year, often learning things in disjointed bits and pieces. Well, much of it is disjointed bits and pieces. How marshmallow Peeps come to be associated with Easter is a complex story; for most people’s purposes, it’s enough just to know that they are associated. Similarly with the red and white hat in #1 as associated with Christmas.

These associations are reinforced in many ways at school, in particular by play activities involving the symbols. For instance, teachers can buy sheets of stickers with symbols for each of the holidays during the year, for their students to use in art or play activities. As here:

(#2) “Mary Engelbreit® Year-Round Holidays Sticker Value Pack”

… for St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, and Valentine’s Day; the company also offers stickers for Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, and the 4th of July.

Yes, just play. But in school, almost all play is also instruction (though not all of it is graded).

Bonus note. In a great many contexts in modern American culture, holiday (without any further context) refers to Christmas. If, for example, you google for “holiday stickers”, almost all the hits will be for Xmas stickers. Home for the holidays refers to the Christmas season. And so on.

That is, at least in the US, Christmas is the default holiday, and the prototype of holidays. This should probably be reflected in dictionary entries.

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