Why Celebrations Matter
In our lives we celebrate many events. From our annual birthdays to seasonal events such as Christmas, Hanukah and Ramadan. Then there are those less frequent celebrations such as weddings, baby showers and even deaths. Yes, technically a funeral is supposed to be a celebration of life. But why do we celebrate? What is it about these dates and events that make us want to gather friends and family together and have fun? What roles do these celebrations play in the development of society?
Humans have been celebrating events since the dawn of mankind and it is an innate part of our community structure. While cavemen celebrated a successful hunt, we now celebrate life milestones. Our birthdays are one example where, each year, the moment of our birth is marked by, traditionally, a party and eating cake. But why? The tradition of celebrating birthdays traces back to the Ancient Egyptians who celebrated the ‘birth days’ of their Pharaohs. Somewhere along the way, humans elevated themselves to Pharaoh-like status and began celebrating their own creation. And our friends and family join in; offering gifts and attending parties. This practice begins when we are children and continues throughout our lives, each of us enjoying a day which focuses on us. And that’s why it’s important; because we take a little time to celebrate ourselves, something busy schedules often don’t allow for.
Although the world is changing, there are many people who continue to follow the traditional life path which our ancestors have stuck to. Complete education, get married, have children, retire, die. All of these life milestones are celebrated. From our graduation ceremonies where we are congratulated for our academic prowess to the day when we leave the office for the final time, clutching a clock. Marriage continues to be a popular life goal amongst youngsters, despite rising divorce rates. Weddings are often lavish, over-priced affairs which take years of planning. But why? Surely the vows and legal oaths taken are the only part of the day that really matter? Perhaps, but weddings are about more than binding two people together for the rest of their live; they’re an outward expression of love.
The time, money and energy put into planning weddings is far greater than any other day of a person’s life. So much emphasis is placed on getting every little detail right and making sure everything is perfect. This is an increasingly modern phenomenon where friends are subtly competing against one another as they seek to make their wedding bigger, better and more memorable than the sleuth of other celebrations they have attended that summer. The day is planned as a portrayal of two people’s love for one another and those who attend are there to celebrate that love. However, unmarried couples may feel exactly the same way about one another without expression the need to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a single day. Does that devalue their love and commitment? Of course not! But you can’t deny that you enjoy a wedding!
Many regular celebrations are focused on religion. Regardless of your belief system or even if you don’t believe in any religion, it is clear to see the power and community spirit which revolves around a faith system. Whether it’s a church congregation or worshippers in a mosque, individuals from all walks of life are brought together because of their common belief. From religions therefore, rise communities. Often the only thing these people share is their faith and this introduces people who wouldn’t usually cross paths to one another and create a support network. Regardless of what you believe or even if you agree with the concept of religion, there are many community benefits to being a part of regular religious celebrations.
Celebrations occur throughout our lives and the final chapter of one’s life ends with a celebration too. Funerals are so often sad affairs in the western world but they aren’t supposed to be. They are an opportunity for the friends and family of the recently deceased to look back over their lives and smile at all the fond memories, laugh and the times they shared, marvel at the person’s achievements and generally celebrate their time on earth.
From the moment we are born, to the day we are buried, our lives are filled with celebrations. They happen for different reasons, with different people and at different times but every celebration is a reminder to enjoy life, to seize the day and to make the most of the time we have.
Go. Do. Experience. More Good Deeds.