Open Thread: Fantasy Festivals edition

Yesterday the USA celebrated Thanksgiving – a national festival that was established relatively recently (1863 – though some USians don’t celebrate it at all, for various reasons) and involves certain foods and rituals – most prominently, the ritual of each participant giving thanks, out loud, before the big meal – or so the movies tell me.

And I came over all amateur anthropologist and starting thinking about all our various festivals: where they come from; what they mean; and why we still celebrate some, abandon others, and invent more. So it’s over to you, lovely nerdy ladies and gentlemen:

  • What historical festival would you revive, if you could?

 

Personally, for the former, I’m torn between Bealtaine* (Bonfires! Cattle! Cattle jumping over bonfires!) and the Eleusinian Mysteries (so compelling – and possibly pyschotropic – that what went on during them is still a secret thousands of years later).

But us humans are a versatile lot, so I’m also wondering

  • What new festival would you institute? When, where, why, and what would people do to celebrate it?

 

Have at it on this and whatever else springs to mind in the comments.

*pronounced like ‘byal-thih-neh’ for those who haven’t been taught the delights of IPA.

12 thoughts on “Open Thread: Fantasy Festivals edition”

  1. I’m working on my short story (or maybe it’s a novel?). So far I have 3 paragraphs about an old man watching a young woman in a restaurant. Huh. Not terribly exciting. I always have all these great characters and they don’t DO anything. Is it possible to have a novel constructed with no plot or narrative?  I would be a really awesome writer if that were the case.

  2. Two observations into one new holiday:

     

    1) I think the thing that makes a nation-wide holiday successful is that it’s a special, official time set aside to be with loved ones. The focus is different each time (winter holiday, 4th of July, Halloween to some degree) but everybody is focused on that thing for that day, so while you’re sharing time with your loved ones, you know that others are also sharing time with their loved ones. Unless they have to work, which sucks, and you take a moment to think of them too, hoping they get to have some time with their peeps before or after the holiday rush.

     

    2) Many people I know who harbored blind prejudice against other humans has been gradually swayed away from that prejudice by actually spending time with the humans in question. Getting into the friend-space where both parties can ask and answer sincere questions in the spirit of openness. I’m not saying people always have to be explaining their actions and cultures to others, because of course that can be tedious and ostracizing (“you’re weird! why do you do things that way?”), but it would also be nice if there could be a time where courteous restraint goes out the window just a little bit, and we could find out things about each other that normally wouldn’t be polite to ask about. I believe in the ’60s they called it consciousness-raising.

     

    So in that spirit, how about a Your Family/Group Hangs Out With A Family/Group That’s Different From You Day? Get a little out of the comfort zone and spend a day with someone you normally wouldn’t. Someone you kinda know, but aren’t close with for whatever reason. Share a meal where people bring “whatever tastes good to them” and open up a discussion about different people’s comfort foods, leading to broader topics. A two-way street, where anybody can ask anything, provided it’s an honest question that respects the human spirit of the other party. I decree it’s even okay if the event is not entirely harmonious, and people’s feathers get ruffled; at least some exposure to the difference went on that day. Something to think about for the rest of the year back in one’s own comfortable social circles.

     

    Note: the holiday needs a better name. Something like “Xenophilia” or a word in Esperanto or a completely random made-up word, because it would be a bit pointless to have a celebration of differences that has a name in any particular language. Maybe a simple loud wail (spelled however you want, in your language) since that’s the first thing all of us say when we’re born. “What are you doing for Aaaaaaaaaeeeeeeaaaa this year?”

    1. Ha, awesome. Or a simple consonant-vowel pair, as most languages have those too.

      It sounds a little like the old Lord of Misrule/Feast of Fools day, except that was explicitly about power structures. But yes, your idea sounds awesome,  sign me up for AAEEEAA!

  3. The trailer for “Moneyball” (Brad Pitt’s new film) is out over here, and it’s hilarious. super-short, like two shots of Brad Pitt, one of him hugging a child, and just repeats the name of the show three times. That’s what you get for trying to market a film about baseball where nobody plays baseball?

  4. Uuuuummmmm I kind of love Christmas the way it is. I am in the process of putting up my Christmas tree. Going with silver, gold, and white this year (white lights, silver-and-white topper, gold ribbon as a garland, my grandma’s silver ornaments, and will be making gold origami cranes to put on the tree.)

    I moved, and can’t figure out if/what to do with a long lighted garland I have. I used to put it on my bannister, but I don’t have one of those this year. Not going to put it on the balcony because the tree is blocking the balcony door, so it’s not like I could turn the lights on.

    Pandora is set to Christmas Radio. I don’t have any hot cocoa, but I think I will make some Chocolate Tea for when I’m done.

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