The Sinful Holidays People Just Can’t Get Enough Of

Holidays with a "sinful" spin

The seven deadly sins: “pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth.” Amidst this holiday season, we found it curious that many of our traditional holidays include this behavior. In fact, not only is it perfectly acceptable, but seemingly encouraged at times . . . .

Let’s take a look at a few examples of holidays surrounded by sin (and we’re not merely sticking to those seven).

Mardi Gras

The holiday of Mardi Gras descends upon New Orleans every winter. France and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil are also known for Mardi Gras. The literal French translation means “Fat Tuesday.” Also known as “Shrove Tuesday,” it’s the last day where you can, er, let yourself go (the sinful word of choice here is gluttony) before Lent commences on Ash Wednesday.

Mardi Gras is related to celebrations called carnivals (from the Latin words carne and vale, or “meat” and “farewell”). So, another reason to get fat on Fat Tuesday is because Mardi Gras is also a farewell to meat before the abstinence of Lent.

New Year's Eve & St. Patrick's Day

Can you think of a holiday where getting drunk is de rigueur? How about two?

The last day of every year, people tend to go a little bit overboard on their alcohol consumption. And, what’s the drink of choice for most on New Year’s Eve: champagne. One of champagne’s definitions means “anything considered the best or luxurious,” and that’s how most people want to feel as they say “goodbye” to the old year and hope for better things in the new one.

And, we can’t forget St. Patrick’s Day, either. A holiday dedicated to the patron saint who brought Catholicism to Ireland, it also was a dry holiday in Ireland until the 1970s. However, Irish immigrants made it into what it is today, using it as a holiday to binge on drink (and food) as a permanent excuse (1 day only) from Lent.

Bonus: Mardi Gras has a place here, too.

Valentine's Day

Ah, Valentine’s Day. On one hand, you’ve got the conservative day, where Ward Cleaver (kids: Google it) hands June a sweet, lace-fringed Valentine card with a box of candy accompanied by a chaste peck on the cheek. On the other hand, you’ve got lingerie retailers who aren’t just advertising red teddies for the heck of it (yup, if you were thinking about the sinful lust, you’d be right).

Yet, the word valentine actually comes from the Latin word meaning “strong.” Interesting how what was once perhaps a day to celebrate a strong patron saint has turned into a mushy (or R-rated) holiday for those in love. 


Christmas, by its very definition, is a holiday that celebrates the birth of Christ. Over the last couple of decades though, the holiday has lost much of its original meaning, and it has devolved into the sin of materialism.

And, then there’s the feelings that come after all that adrenaline subsides. Your sister got a nice gold watch, but you didn’t. (Coveting and envy kick in right about here.) The greed factor may now be what the holiday is all about. (There’s always a chance to turn it around with philanthropy!)

Christmas (Sweden's Gävle Goat)

Arson isn’t by strict definition a sin, but destroying public property would most certainly fall under the aegis of “very bad behavior.”

Yet, in the town of Gävle, Sweden, it’s become a Christmastime tradition to burn down a major Christmas symbol. Every year, they erect a really big goat statue made of straw. Why a goat? Well, apparently the yule goat is a thing in Europe (to give Santa’s reindeer a break he sometimes rode a goat.) And, more often times than not, someone burns Gävle’s yule goat to the ground. This has happened dozens of times, even though it’s illegal (a new-age sinful tradition for sure)! Luckily, the fire department is nearby.

Labor Day

Sloth, by its strict definition, is “laziness.” We also add “a habitual disinclination to exertion,” which is quite funny when you think about it.

Labor Day now exudes this sin—even though it’s the direct opposite of what the holiday is actually about! It is a holiday designed to celebrate the working men and women of America (according to the Department of Labor “It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country”). Yet, it now seems like it’s just the last chance to hit the pool before the kids head back to school.

(Want to learn other sad phrases like “back to school”? Read more of them here.)

Super Bowl Sunday

OK, Super Bowl Sunday isn’t a national holiday. But, for many football fans, it should be. The United States is basically closed for business on this date, as fans gather in homes, bars, (and if you’re lucky enough, one specific stadium) to watch The Big Game. And, it’s a day full of emotion, a lot of sinful emotion at that.

If your team is driving for a score and your friend’s team intercepts a pass, that can lead to a big argument. Rage quickly ensues. Very quickly. We can put drunkenness in here, too (which can also probably attribute to the rage). Tread lightly football fans, there’s always next year.


Pride. We define it as: “a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.”

While your birthday isn’t an official holiday, it’s certainly a personal one. And, even though it’s a day all about you, it’s nice to have some humility and grace during these occasions. You want people to come back to the party next year right?


Halloween is known for some gluttony and envy too. Anyone who has ever had a tummy ache after scarfing too many candy bars can attest to these sinful actions.

But, surrounding Halloween is another sinful holiday: “Devil’s Night” (or “Cabbage Night” or “Mischief Night”), which is the night before (October 30). It is associated with all sinful manner of mischief, mayhem, and destruction. In Detroit, it was far more serious than tossing toilet paper into the trees. Arson and vandalism were hallmarks of this so-called “tradition.” Sinful and dangerous actions are a bad mix.


Both gluttony (this one appears a lot, no?) and sloth make a return for this holiday.

The whole point of Thanksgiving, of course, is to get your friends and family together to give thanks for what you have. Yet, our sinful ways have morphed it into a day focused on massive amounts of eating followed by massive amounts of some pro football. Very gracious.

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