Celebrations - The Lesser KnownCelebrations - The Lesser Known

The World English Dictionary offers three meanings for celebration.

To rejoice in something; celebrating a victory
To observe or acknowledge: a birthday for example
To perform; a religious ceremony

The word has Latin roots, as do so many English words. It is derived from celebrāre, which means numerous, thronged or renowned. Appropriate, since most celebrations involve numerous participants, a throng, as it were. Many celebrations are widely known, like Christmas, New Year's Day and Thanksgiving.

There are also much lesser known celebrations and I'd like to explore a few of them here. I was particularly interested to see what celebration might exist on my birthday, October 1st, and sure enough, World Vegetarian Day. Is ketchup a vegetable? This celebration was established by the North American Vegetarian Society in 1977 and subsequently endorsed by the International Vegetarian Union in 1978, which, I guess, conferred upon it worldwide status. The concept for the day is to promote the joy, compassion (no animals killed) and life-enhancing possibilities of vegetarianism. I'm an omnivore myself, and was just a little miffed at the prospect of sharing my birthday with herbivores, but hey, could be worse. I'm still intent on having a two-inch thick, medium rare sirloin with all the trimmings for my birthday dinner. I hope they won't mind over there at the IVU. Let's not tell them!

My mother's birthday, bless her heart, is 9/11, so we won't touch that one.

My brother was born on August 19th. He shares his birthday with National Aviation Day, a genuine US Holiday by proclamation of President Franklin D. Roosevelt himself. The year, 1939! Now I'm jealous! This is Orville Wright's birthday as well. You know, the first powered flight, Kitty Hawk. I got vegetables! On this date, we honor the achievements of Orville & Wilbur Wright. Sometimes the accomplishments of other early aviation and space pioneers are also recognized.

The Navajo Mountain Chant is a nine-day celebration marking the end of winter and the transition to spring. It consists of chanting, arrow swallowing, and sand painting and culminates with dancing inside a circle of participants camouflaged as evergreens. It is said by tribal elders, the first circle of evergreens was 6 miles in diameter.

I wonder about the necessity of celebrations. Do they have a fundamental purpose beyond what the superficial names of Birthday, National Aviation Day, etc. suggests? Perhaps, in the end, all celebrations are actually a reaffirmation of life. An excuse to acknowledge that we are here or have been here and will always be here. Celebrations are bookmarks in the endless pages of human existence. Always changing, evolving and providing the excuse for the socialization, companionship and human interaction that, I believe, is the true basis for celebrations of all stripes.

Whether a birthday, celebrated in the close circle of family and friends or a National Aviation Day, encompassing a larger circle of humanity whose common interest and purpose draw them together and create yet another page in the thick book of life.
by Ronald Fisackerly
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Ronald Fisackerly does a lot of article writing for Skylighter. Skylighter sells confetti cannons and punk sticks as well as a variety of other items.
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