Why Do We Celebrate?

Most of us enjoy a celebration. We celebrate Christmas, (which prompted this blog), Easter, Birthdays, religious festivals, or cultural events, as well as successes.
Oxford Dictionaries.com definition of Celebrate is

Publicly acknowledge a significant or happy day or event with a social gathering or enjoyable activity.

According to Vaatupura A. Jayaprakash, on the website, Merinews,

celebrations used to strengthen the ‘social fabric among individuals, families, societies, communities and nations as well.’

Turkish Night – Richmond Ephesus Hotel, Kusadasi

One day each week, at the hotel we have been to in Turkey for the last few years, everyone, from every nation comes together to celebrate ‘Turkey’. The place is decorated with Turkish flags, Turkish music is played and then they play the Turkish anthem and the staff lead a procession through the dining areas with a massive ice cream cake. They are celebrating their nation – and it is a joy to share.

In ancient history – the ancient Greeks brought people together in the Olympic Games and ensured their safety during the time of the celebrations. If we look at Sainsbury’s Christmas advert (whether you approve of it or not), based on a true story from the first world war, then we see an example of how a celebration brought about a truce and united enemies. (it didn’t last of course).

Celebrations link us to the past and unite us. In our divided and fragmented families, communities and societies, we need things that unite and bring harmony all the more. I love to see weddings that bring whole communities or villages together. Seeing weddings in Cyprus has always delighted me. Things may have changed to some extent, but whole villages still turn out for weddings and they become community celebrations.

Centre Parcs singing reindeer

In this day and age, celebrations can highlight division. Whilst accompanying a patient from the little hospital I worked in to A&E in the General Hospital one Christmas Eve, a paramedic told me that Christmas Eve is busy with people who have drunk too much, but Christmas Day is all domestic arguments, which struck me as very sad. Not only can celebrations highlight division, but they also heighten the sense of loneliness for those who are separated from family and friends, for the bereaved and for the sick. If our celebrations were truly about unity and harmony and bringing people together, we would think about the margninalised too.

The TES website tells us that

Celebrations enable people to have a good time and demonstrate what is important to them.

The idea that celebrations should reflect our values is also made in the book ‘Alternatives For Simple Living,’ edited by Carolyn Pogue. In one section, entitled, ‘One family’s program for change, Carolyn C Shadle suggests that we should,

Create celebrations that reflect your values and don’t cost the earth.

Worth thinking about in our consumer society. I love the trappings of Christmas and Weddings as much as anyone, or I wouldn’t go to Centre Parcs’ Winter Wonderland with my friends, but come Christmas Eve I will go to midnight mass to remind myself of what Christmas really means to me.