Let's Celebrate Something Worth Celebrating
If you're like me you grew up celebrating Christmas and Easter. But why do we celebrate these holidays? The answer to this question is: we grew up in a culture that was started by a Christian ideology.
If we'd been born into an Islamic culture we'd celebrate Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha. Eid Al-Fitr is celebrated at the end of Ramadan (a month of fasting during daylight hours), and Muslims usually give zakat (charity) on the occasion. Eid Al-Adha is celebrated on the tenth day of Dhu al-Hijjah and lasts for three days, during which Muslims usually sacrifice a sheep and distribute its meat in 3 parts: among family, friends, and the poor.
If we'd been born into a Jewish culture we'd celebrate a lot of holidays: Hanukkah—Festival of Lights and Yom Kippur—Day of Atonement, just to name two of the very many Jewish holidays.
But, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are just three religious ideologies, that celebrate holidays. Here is a list of some popular religions with Homo sapiens, each has its own holidays and knows how to party:
Bábism, Bahá'í Faith, Latter-Day Saints movement (Mormonism), Gnosticism, Druze, Black Hebrew Israelites, Rastafari movement, Mandaeans and Sabians, Shabakism, Bhakti movement, Buddhism, Din-e Ilahi, Hinduism, Jainism, Meivazhi, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, Gnostic religions, Bábí movement, Yazdânism, Confucianism, Shinto, Shinto-inspired religions, Taoism, Contemporary Taoism-inspired religions.
That list does not include the indigenous traditional religions such as:
Mesoamerican religions, African, American, Eurasian, Oceania/Pacific, Cargo cults, Historical polytheism, Ancient Near Eastern, Indo-European, Hellenistic, Uralic, Mysticism and occult, Esotericism and mysticism, Western mystery tradition, Occult and magic, Modern Paganism, Syncretic, Ethnic, Native American, New Thought, Shinshukyo, Left-hand path religions, Post-theistic and naturalistic religions, Parody or mock religions.
I think you get the picture. Every group of Homo sapiens, given enough population and time has come up with some religious ideology or another. And each has developed holidays to celebrate, based on the myths and supernatural events that make-up the religion. It's what we do, it's called culture.
I'm a sceptic, which means I do not consider the idea of any god or gods as truth. As a sceptic, I want my celebrations to be based on facts and not myths.
I might be a sceptic, but I am also a member of Homo sapiens, which means I like to party like the next upright walking ape. How do I have my fun celebrating, and not have to participate in revels based on myths and the supernatural?
As it turns out our ancestors had already figured this out long ago. The ancients, who were much more in-tune with the environment than we are, celebrated based on the movement of the Earth and the Sun through the cosmos. This has been something us sapiens have been doing for a very long time. This schedule and system of celebration has been going on far longer than the Christian, Islamic, and Judaic celebratory schemes. It is based on observable, repeatable, and measurable events. No need for myths and the supernatural to get down a boogie.
So, this is the system and schedule of celebration I choose to follow. It is also quite flexible and can include more-or-less celebration times, depending on how much you like to party. Here is a list of the fact-based celebration events.
Our first factual celebration occurs in December each year and is known as the Winter Solstice. If you live in the northern hemisphere it's known as the Winter Solstice and if you live in the southern hemisphere it's known as the Summer Solstice.
The Winter Solstice (or hibernal solstice), also known as midwinter, is an astronomical phenomenon marking the day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year. In the northern hemisphere, this is the December solstice and in the Southern Hemisphere this is the June solstice.
Now if that is not something to party, I really do not know what would make you pick up a Champagne glass and start singing.
In March, each year the Vernal Equinox occurs. An equinox is the moment in which the plane of Earth's equator passes through the center of the Sun, which occurs twice each year, in March and September.
On an equinox, day and night are of approximately equal duration all over the planet. However, they are not exactly equal. This is due to the angular size of the sun and atmospheric refraction of the Earth. To avoid this ambiguity, the word equilux is sometimes used to mean a day in which the durations of light and darkness are equal.
Now I really need a drink.
In June, for us northern hemi-spherically biased, the Summer Solstice (or estival solstice), also known as midsummer, occurs. This is when our planet's rotational axis, in either northern or southern hemispheres, is most inclined toward our local star (the Sun) that we orbit.
In September, the Autumnal Equinox occurs for us northerners. This is another time in our fact based celebratory year that day and night are of approximately equal duration all over the planet.
If these four fact based events are not enough for your partying needs then there's more:
Half way between the Winter Solstice and Vernal Equinox in February is the marking of the beginning of spring. Most commonly it is held on 1 February, or about halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals.
In May, let's celebrate Beltane. This is the mid-point between the Vernal Equinox and the Summer Solstice. The name Beltane is the anglicized version of the Gaelic May Day festival. Most commonly it is held on 1 May, or about halfway between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.
Now those Gaelic knew how to party.
In August, halfway between the Summer Solstice and the Autumnal Equinox we can celebrate Lughnasadh. Although, we might not be able to pronounce it. This party point marks the beginning of the harvest season. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Originally, it was held on 1 August, or about halfway between the Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox.
In November, another Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year occurs. Traditionally, it is celebrated from 31 October to 1 November. This is about halfway between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice.
Now please, don't tell me that we sceptics don't know how to party.
Enjoy life, it's the only one you'll get.