Flip the Script on Holidays
Week Five: Flip the Script on Holidays
Flip the Script on Holidays
“Festivals are occasions to empower ourselves in the course of humanity – they are the occasions to rekindle the promise of humanity in our heart – the promise that we keep forgetting in the cacophony of manmade labels.” ~Abhijit Naskar, I Vicdansaadet Speaking: No Rest Till the World is Lifted
This is another topic that I am tiptoeing into and around because I know that there are emotional ties to different holidays that we have each celebrated as children and with family. Holidays are rich with memories and a wide range of feelings.
In the United States, we just celebrated Thanksgiving, a holiday that is connected with family and based on a moment in history when white settlers from Europe sat down with Indigenous people who had taught them what to plant and this was a sharing of harvest and abundance. More on this on another day…
To flip the script on holidays, festivals and annual celebrations, “things you have participated in celebrating throughout your life” are placed under a microscope and viewed from a telescope with questions.
Does this annual celebration still make sense to you? What has changed? What do you want to change? Are you grieving the loss of a holiday celebration that is no more? Are you comparing your experience to someone else’s holiday photos? ((I have two family photos where we were all smiling and the whole week was so dysfunctional and trauma triggering that I knew it would never happen again — Christmas 2014. Don’t let the smiles fool you.)
In the writing prompts today, I’m going to ask you to make a list of festivals, traditions, and religious holidays that you celebrate throughout the year. Then, write about what you enjoy about the holiday and what you would like to change. Don’t overthink it. Share anything that is on your mind about the different celebrations.
You have the power to change things and do things differently. And you have the power to keep things just as they are. This is an invitation to get in touch with what you know and see and want. Things that are within your power to say yes and no.
With Thanksgiving Day in the US, the holiday season, aka Christmas, received a kick-off in different ways across the world. In the United States, there is the Macy’s Day parade with turkeys, balloons and Santa Claus, ushering in Black Friday and a rush to buy presents for the holidays.
When my children were little, I introduced an annual tradition of choosing a different country every December to learn about holiday traditions and rituals. We had celebrations on December 13 for St. Lucia Day in Sweden, Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe from Mexico (December 12), Boxing Day from England (December 26) and Hanukah parties (different dates every year). We would cook traditional foods, play games, make crafts, and sing songs. If we knew someone from the country or religion, even better. It was rich and honoring.
With a European-Nordic ancestry that includes many different countries, I feel, even though I didn’t know it then, there was something calling me to the traditions of my ancestors. A longing for connection to something that was lost long ago when we traveled from our country of origin to America. I was searching for meaning and purpose for the holidays that were beyond the Swedish cookie recipes from my father’s Swedish roots and all the presents under the tree.
And…I was searching for the light.
I’ve wondered what we lost when we crossed the Atlantic and came to the United States from another country or countries. We lost language. A rootedness to the foods we grew. Traditions that were passed down from the elders. Connection to the land. Did we come here by choice or by slavery or indentured servitude? Did our people come with us or did some of them stay?
One of my friends loves going to the European Christmas markets in Prague in the Czech Republic and Vienna, Austria. She and her husband love shopping and the traditional food. My friend has ancestry from Eastern Europe, and I know it brings back memories of traditional foods her grandmother and mother cooked when she was growing up. The European Christmas markets have become an extravaganza.
I was curious about when that tradition of markets began. Originally the markets started in the Middle Ages as a way for local people to come together and purchase and trade food and goods. The gathering would last for one day or several days.
In the name of Protestant Reformation, the celebration of Saint Nicholas was moved from Dec 6 to Dec 24, Martin Luther wrote hymns and influenced traditions that we still do today, like the Christmas tree. This was a shift only 500 years ago.
I wonder what traditions were lost because of organized religion.
This week, I will unpack some of my moments of waking up to a desire to do things differently and to talk about our connection and disconnection from the cycles of nature and seasons that may be affecting us. I will also share an experience of being invited to a Seder online during the pandemic.
Day 29 Prompts:
- Make a list of festivals, traditions, and religious holidays that you celebrate throughout the year. Write about what you enjoy about the holiday and what you would like to change. Don’t overthink it. Share anything that is on your mind about the different celebrations.
- Does this annual celebration still make sense to you? What has changed? What do you need or want to change?
- Are you grieving the loss of a holiday celebration that is no more?
- Are you comparing your experience to someone else’s holiday photos?
- Are past traditions inspiring you? Do they make you feel happy and fulfilled?
- What is working and what is not working?
To read all 100 days of Flip the Script, go to Medium: https://andreahylen.medium.com/