I’ve read Joseph Pieper’s little book Leisure: The Basis of Culture a few times, and every time I find it worth the slog in the beginning to make it to the chapter 4. Chapter 4 confirmed to me that convivial was a word to latch onto and make my own – one way or another.

What is education for? What is life for?

It is not for work for work’s sake. The work must be for a purpose larger than itself; the work moves us toward something meaningful.

In ancient times, it was said that we are not-at-leisure in order than we might be at leisure.

But what is true leisure, true rest?

Pieper answers:

The heart of leisure consists in “festival.”

We want scholé and to teach from rest, but when we realize it requires work, we can think we are doing it wrong. You're probably not. It's a gift of service we offer.

We as mothers find ourselves in a difficult spot. We want scholé, we want teaching from rest, but then it quickly becomes apparent that both are work, which seems like the opposite of rest or leisure, so we think we’re doing it wrong.

You’re probably not doing it wrong.

It isn’t not work, it is “work of a different order” as Sarah Mackenzie put it.

To experience and live out a harmony with the world, in a manner quite different from that of everyday life – this, we have said, is the meaning of “festival.”
– Joseph Pieper

The truth is that celebrations are fun, festive, restorative, and point us to the glorious eternal celebration awaiting us in heaven.

What does rest from work signify in the Bible or for ancient Greece and Rome? The meaning of the rest from labor is cultic: definite days and times were designated to the exclusive possession of the gods.
– Joseph Pieper

Festivity is an atmosphere. It is also a lot of work.

However, the work isn’t to glorify our own reputations or build our own kingdoms; the work is done to glorify God and honor Him – it’s a sacrifice of praise. It is worship.

But no more intensive harmony with the world can be thought of than that of “Praise of God, the workshop of the Creator of this world.”
– Joseph Pieper

While it takes work to have festival time, it is as much the tone and attitude of the thing as the outer catchings. The cookies, pies, and decorations help create the mood and cultivate enjoyment, but the mood and the enjoyment start with and shine from the heart.

It is in the nature of religious festival to make a space of abundance and wealth, even in the midst of external poverty in material things.
– Joseph Pieper

It doesn’t take expense or extravagance to have festival, leisure, celebration, worship. It takes setting aside our own agendas, and deliberately delighting in God and His people and His gifts.

Worship is to time as the temple is to space.
– Joseph Pieper

It takes gratitude. It is rejoicing.

It is only within such festival-time that the reality of leisure can unfold and be fully realized.
– Joseph Pieper

As you create celebrations this week and over the course of the next month, remember that the point is not to check it off and the point is not to showcase your taste or thoughtfulness or talent. It’s to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. The festive atmosphere points our children to Him, points ourselves to Him, and to the eternal feast that awaits.

The work that must be done to pull it all off is service. It’s watering the garden God’s given us to tend.

Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered.
–Proverbs 11:25

Trust that it’s true.

Let us give our families the joy of a festive Thanksgiving and a festive Christmas, recognizing that it’s a gift we offer to them for Christ. What is done in worship and for ultimate ends instead of utilitarian ends is true leisure, true rest of the soul if not the body.


  1. Amen! Thankful that my husband and 11 year old can help me prepare Thanksgiving dinner while I tend to our newborn baby.

  2. Thank you so much for this! You give me a new resolve to enjoy as I plan and do the holidays. This also frees us from worries about perfection and allows us to just please Him.

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