Holidays. Where really to start? How about a confession?
I suck at religious calendars. I have tried numerous, from the in-depth to the barely there. I don’t do well with them. I forget them, even when I write them down. I also forget most holidays, birthdays, etc. You know that Shel Silverstein poem about the twin who forget his sister’s birthday? That’s me. I forget that it’s my brother’s birthday too. It’s really not surprising that any ritual calendar isn’t going to work for me.
The thing is? I haven’t found what works. Something artificial like the Wheel of the Year doesn’t fit what I believe, nor fits into my Hellenic framework, and well, the Athenian calendar leaves me wishing I lived in Athens. I’ve even considered the calendar set up in Mysteries of Demeter, which is a bit more plausible, and even comes with some handy ritual ideas — but it requires a lot of playing with the dates and actually understanding an agricultural cycle.
I’m planting a garden next year, perhaps that’ll help. After all, I’m an office worker, and I haven’t even figured out the ebb and flow of the work I do.
That said, there are a few holidays that seem ingrained in me. I always celebrate a Dionysia in the winter, and I catch Anthesteria every year. Sometimes, I can just feel it in the air and check HMEPA and realize oh! I haven’t missed it! and I’ll start preparing for the three days.
I grew up in a household that did mark the year with Holidays. Right now, it’s Advent for Catholics. When I was a kid, I both loved and hated this time of year. My family had a tradition that every night, we’d gather at the dining room table. My mother decorated a wreath and always had beautiful candles. We’d gather and we start off by lighting the appropriate candles, singing O come Emmanuel. It’s a hauntingly beautiful song. My dad would then read from whatever publication was handed out that year, meditations for each day.
We had songsheets and books, and each of us picked a song to sing. There’s six of us, and this took awhile. Stephen always picked O Come All Ye Faithful, Philip liked obscurer songs in different languages, we made up our own ways to sing songs like God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen (we call it the russian version). I liked Hark the Herald Angels Sing. And several times during the weeks we’d hear Matt and Stephen O Holy Night, and literally fall on their knees, shaking the floor. We’d end with a prayer and race to blow out the candles.
It was wonderful. As a child, I loved it. As a teen who lived for the internet, I hated it because it meant taking time away from the computer. Now, not being Christian, I wonder what traditions I’m going to pass on. Because I miss it.
I think I need to find a ritual calendar that works, that feels in synch with the world and that I can grow traditions for, because, really, someday I’m going to have children and I’ll need to have that family time.