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Why do we need to celebrate? Is there a pattern common to both religious festivals and secular festivals and celebration?

If you find a commonality of celebration (themes, times of the year, desired outcomes, psychological and emotional agendas), combine them together into a new festival-celebration suitable for the times we live in and the challenges we face as we continue into the 21st century. Start small – think big.

Religious festivals – Rosh Hashanah: On the first night of Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year), it is customary to greet one another with blessings and good wishes of Leshana Tova Tekatev v’etachetem – May you be inscribed for a sweet and good year! – Al-Hijra (New Year): The Islamic New Year is the first day of the month of Muharram. It marks the Hijra (or Hegira) in 622 CE when the Prophet Muhammad moved from Mecca to Medina, and set up the first Islamic state. – Lunar New Year: The Chinese New Year does not fall on the same date each year, although it is always in January or February. The Chinese New Year is an important celebration all over the world. There are similar celebrations in Japan, Korea and Vietnam known as the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival. – Holi: The most boisterous of all Hindu festivals; it heralds the end of winter and is celebrated early in March. Men, women and children revel in throwing coloured powder and squirting coloured water on each other. Greetings and sweets are exchanged. – Good Friday: A special day celebrated by Christians on the Friday before Easter. It commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Special prayer services are held on this day with readings from the Gospel accounts of the events leading up to the crucifixion. – Baisakhi: Celebrated with joyous music and dance, it is Punjab’s New Year’s Day (usually April 13). Sikhs celebrate this festival as a birthday of the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh, who founded the Khalsa (the Sikh community). Diwali: The festival of lights is one of the most beautiful of Indian festivals. It celebrates the return of Rama to Ayodhya after his long exile.

– Id-ul-Fitr: Celebrates the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting. It is an occasion of feasting and rejoicing. The faithful gather in mosques to pray; friends and relatives meet to exchange greetings.

Some secularised festivals, celebrations and holidays

New Year’s Day all over the world but not necessarily at the same time. Bank Holidays, UK; Brazil’s Carnival Holiday; Octoberfest in Germany; Hanami, Cherry Blossom Season, Japan; Children’s Day in Turkey; Independence Day USA; Teuila Festival in Western Samoa; Martin Luther King’s Birthday, USA; Venice Carnival, Italy.

This article first appeared in Education Law Update – Feb 2006

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