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Why Do We Celebrate? Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Wojciech Gryc, Canada Nov 30, 2003
Culture   Opinions


Why Do We Celebrate? Every year, thousands upon thousands of people choose to leave work, skip school, and possibly come together to form a massive group to celebrate... The people come in all shapes and sizes, and nationality need not be an issue. What do they celebrate? It doesn’t matter.

The description above can be related to holidays and celebrations all over the world; indeed, it may be a generic way of looking at almost any celebration. Though the number of people participating may change, the spirit of the event is likely to stay the same. Herein lies the true reason we, as humans, spend countless hours celebrating birthdays and other special days: to build bridges amongst one another.

At first, such a statement may sound odd and inaccurate: New Year’s Eve is all about ushering in the upcoming year, while the North American Halloween is simply an excuse to wear a costume and collect a gargantuan amount of candy. Even these two events, however, serve to bring people closer together. In today’s society, where the media constantly litters our minds with violence and fear, the benefits of such holidays may be lost with frightening images of razorblades placed inside apples to hurt children or drunkards fighting on New Year’s Eve. Such cases are rare, if they occur at all, and should be taken with a few grains of salt.

Both New Year’s Eve and Halloween, along with countless other holidays and celebrations, work towards bringing people together. As young children, we are constantly told never to accept candy from strangers and yet every October 31, we are encouraged to ignore this evil stranger stigma and go door-to-door to ask for sweets. When growing up, some are also encouraged to stay away from large noisy crowds and yet, on December 31 of every year, such crowds consist of nothing more than a lot of cheering, smiling, and even hugging. These are just two examples, though there are many more.When people come together to celebrate something, they do so a way that ignores prejudice and condemns shyness; celebrations work to bring people together regardless of who those people are. Even on solemn occasions where we remember past tragedies or the loss of a loved one, friends and family – and sometimes even strangers – come together as a collective whole to remember, celebrate, and support one another.

When dealing with celebrations, there is one quote that comes to mind. It is from a biblical source, though can be applied in this context as well:

“For everything there is a season,
And a time for every matter under heaven:
... A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance...”
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

That describes celebrations in a universal way, for different celebrations entail different emotions and qualities, from tears to dancing, or even both. The important thing regarding celebrations is not that we are throwing a party, but rather that we are coming together as one society and one world, to celebrate together.

Even in ancient times, celebrations were used to bring people together. The Ancient Greeks had the Olympics, which helped promote peace among warring countries and states. During the Olympic games, the Greeks allowed for the safe passage to all those participating or observing the games and some ancient texts go as far as to say that the Greeks actually laid down all of their arms during the games! In an ancient era where war was extremely common, it is incredible to see the power that the Olympics – a celebration of physical capability – had on warring factions!

Indeed, such is the case today as well. We celebrate many different events, and yet all such celebrations bring people together in peace, harmony, and unity. All such holidays make us forget the troubles we face and allow us to be happy and experience the peace that is required to improve and help the world.

If only we held celebrations every day...



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Wojciech Gryc

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vamsi deepak | Dec 19th, 2003
not bad.but it can be better expressed

Ricky | Oct 7th, 2004
I really enjoy the in-depth look at holidays and celebrations. Your opinions hold much truth!

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