Thinking Unconstrained

Examining the world with a critical eye. Topics span a wide range including but not limited to, observations, insights, problems, solutions, proposals, and hypothetical scenarios.
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By Sybilla
In the book of Genesis, it is written that God completed his work of creation in six days. On the seventh, he rested from his creative endeavor. He blessed that day and made it holy. And so we have the notion of a seven day week, with a day of rest ending the work, also known as the Sabbath. But whether one believes in the veracity of this tale or not, it is reasonable to assume that the ancient leadership of the Semitic tribes of the Orient (and by extension, all their derivatives) also believed in the importance of having rest from toil and labor. Deific commandment for having rest in this case worked just as well for both the priests and the laity alike. The workers needed a break, and the priesthood needed the support of the workers and their consensual compliance. A mutually beneficial arrangement to a degree, which in similar ways worked just as well for other cultures with a priesthood ruling class; Each having their own time of celebration, as a way of focusing and releasing their pent up need to let loose, rest, and to take a break from the same old.

But celebrations and holy-days are not necessarily constrained to religious frameworks. That just happens to be the case because of the cultural traditions and beliefs of the ancestral peoples. Some are based on folklores, such as harvest celebrations, or celestial calendrical recognitions, or days of remembrance of folk heroes and tales. These have intimate meaning to agrarian societies and is a reflection of their closeness to the seasonal rhythms of the earth, and their tremendous dependence on nature's blessing. One must celebrate the coming of spring to bring bounty to the crops during the growing season. The midsummer must be rejoiced as a sign of a good and promising year, and if not, as a way of convincing the powers that be to bring favorable weather. The harvest is a party time of plenty, and the winter is entered with a sense of foreboding, but also with a hopeful expectation of an early spring and mercy from the deadly chill. The clockwork of nature was then the clockwork of man, in harmony at the most basic sustenance level of dependence and of cosmological awe.

Industry however disassociated man from nature, and there was no longer a compelling reason to celebrate the seasons of farmers. The rational man likewise no longer needed to keep the Sabbath or religious holidays of those superstitious ignoramuses. He was now a free man in a scientific and democratic world, to create his own holidays for the things that he believed mattered to himself and to his compatriots. Days such as remembrance of fallen heroes upon battlefields, or of independence from tyrannical landlords, or celebrations of important people instrumental in the establishment of the nations and the like took center stage in the cultural days of significance. Such celebrations bonded people in national terms and defined them as a society. No matter what our differences, those celebrations brought the opposing disagreements and squabbles to the sidelines and the nation's ideals took prominence.

These are roughly the constituent parts of our modern concept of a holiday. Various groupings have their own special days, and they usually are a mix of these types as a way of keeping tradition alive and to be reminded of the core values important for the cohesion of their group identity. But there are many people who do not celebrate any of these whatsoever and never get in the "holiday spirit". Ebenezer Scrooge would be a perfect fit in this modern age - spreading a good deal of "Bah Humbugs" to every occasion for celebrations and replacing them with yet another excuse for increasing profits. If God rested on the seventh day, shouldn't man need to rest as much? If the gods needed man's offerings and celebrations for celestial events, shouldn't man celebrate the beauty of the celestials and remember to give thanks to nature? And if the ideals of the land and the people give meaning to our heritage and our culture, shouldn't we honor our ancestors and our fellow countrymen as brothers and sisters united by this common charge to uphold its foundational laws and codes? In other words, holidays are not just days of rest from the hamster wheel. They require a different kind of work and they need to be embraced and given personal meaning to invigorate ourselves, our families, and our friends. The whole-y-days need to unite us in love and we must use them to help us grow as a people.
Ce-le-brate-good-times-com'on! Let's celebrate, time for us to appreciate.
Ce-le-brate-good-times-com'on! We gonna celebrate, we have to gather what it takes.
Ce-le-brate-good-times-com'on! It's a celebration, no matter what may be at stake.
Ce-le-brate-good-times-com'on! Let's celebrate, it's alright, it's all right.

It really doesn't matter how the celebration is performed as long as it is genuine and you take part in it in earnest. Getting up and making an effort to party is a natural and healthy human behavior, and this is a sign of vitality and that of high spirit - even if the best you can manage is to raise a glass and give a cheer. The point is that you're there, not just for yourself but also for the others. Make the effort, because that's how you show you care. Be there for one another, and celebrate the good times, because those moments are precious. Share the occasions, as that's how human beings bond; it's how the species has operated for thousands of years.

Birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, and victories both major and minor, are not mere trivialities in one's ride through existence. They need to be seized - carpe diem. They're the highs juxtaposed to life's lows, and they need to be used to bring out the best in us. And they're especially needed during the dark days of conflict and pain. Light is needed in the darkest twilight of night, and any opportunity for it to shine is a welcome sight. When the brightness wanes by the looming shadow of dread and misery, it behooves us to bring cheer to the weary and to rekindle the flames of love and life. Set aside those things that would quench your happiness. Get up and dance, and sing, and laugh. The human spirit cannot be quenched as long as we have each other. It is the strongest when joy reigns in our celebrations. It is one's duty to party.
Remember those who have gone before us; memories of loved ones who live in our hearts.
Fondly thought of and thankfully received; ignited in our being - our communed spirit.
We who are united in truth - life in soul; will meet again yet here and now we walk together.
The remainder of this journey we will speed; as the eagle soars upon the nimbus climb.
Our companions - you are dear to us; we remember you.
We judge not your frailties; but sing of your praises.
We light solemn candles; we summon thee not back to mortal earth.
But to give ye thanks, for your precious gift of friendship.

The heroes are remembered, for they are worth remembering. The good and the virtuous are the beacons upon the choppy shores of our unsteady voyage. The meek, the kind, and the honorable are those who give us courage in the face of the evils rampaging this world. They are examples of who we can be; who we aspire to be; and who we are called to be. Their blazed trails are our roads, and their markings upon the path are our guiding compass.

Remember your heroes.
Remember your friends.
Remember who you are.