In honor of Easter weekend and Passover, neither of which I celebrate, I'm making a list of the holidays I do celebrate. I'm devoutly non-religious, and I consider atheism a religion as well, so basically I'm the pope of "how should I know?", and I take my responsibilities seriously.
So here is what I celebrate. I celebrate New Years as often as possible. January 1st, Chinese New Year, my birthday and everyone else's as personal New Years, any opportunity at all. I pledge to new year's revolutions and sometimes stick with them. I'm not particularly pagan, although I do love me a good ritual. Unfortunately, I haven't really seen a good ritual since I left California, so that element is not much of a draw at this point. But I celebrate the quarters, the solstices and equinoxes, and the cycles of the moon, because they're actual real things and lovely markers of time here on this planet. I am not interested in the accessory activities, the spells and self important seriousness and the...stuff. I celebrate mardi gras in the festive sense, not the catholic sense, because I never turn down a good party with costumes. I celebrate Arbor Day, because, hello, trees. I celebrate the 4th of July because I love exploding things that are on fire. I'm not much about flags, although Tibetan prayer flags are lovely.
I used to refuse Valentine's Day, but have recently reconsidered and now I view it as a day to celebrate love. Not just romantic love, but the capital L kind of Love. Big love. It almost comes full circle to when I was in grade school and you had to give everyone a valentine, not just the people you especially liked. It's a day to remember to not just be in love, but be love. So now we're friends again, valentine's day and me.
I celebrate All Hallow's Eve and Day of the Dead, because did I mention costumes and parties? Yes, that.
I really like exploring other people's holidays, even when I think the reason behind them is silly, and sometimes once is enough. But other ones are just fun to play with. India has a lot of great celebrations to offer, and they don't seem to be too grimly serious. I appreciate that. Who can't like a day dedicated to lights, for example? What a great idea.
I don't celebrate what I call florists' holidays - Mother's Day, Father's Day, you know the ones. When my son was little his second grade teacher forced him to make me a card for Mother's Day. He kept saying, "she really doesn't want anything" and she kept saying "oh, she's just saying that", and he kept saying "no, she actually means it" (yes, he said things like that at that age), and then he brought it home and handed it to me and said, "I'm sorry, she made me do it.". The thing is, he gave me cards and drawings and paintings and cool stuff he found every day and he completely understood that he didn't need a day assigned to be nice to me. It wasn't a duty. We really liked each other. So anyway, I don't do those kinds of holidays.
I've gone back and forth with christmas. I started out observing only the solstice, then my kiddo felt left out because everyone he knew celebrated on a different day, then I've recently gotten so pissed off at the overbearing exhortations from people who can't tolerate the idea of a secular celebration and want everyone to "put the Christ back in christmas" and remind us that "Jesus is the reason for the season" (bear in mind, I live in the south), that I've gone back to the solstice. But I don't like the idea of celebrating as a season of spending and shopping and gluttony and family obligations. I don't care at all for the idea that one shopping season determines the financial success of the retail industry - this seems insane. If people have to buy a bunch of crap for other people that the other people don't need and often don't even want, this is not a viable business model to begin with. I like to give people things when I'm inspired to, not when I'm told to. So anyway, what I celebrate on the solstice is that every day starts having more light than the last. At the same time, it's the marker for when the plans you made are going to prove themselves - if I didn't have a grocery store down the street, it would be the season where what I had managed to put up for the winter would be my survival. It marks the beginning of seeds thinking about themselves underground, of animals holding back and waiting, it's a pause. Pauses are important. Pauses are what keep music from being screeching cacaphony. The solstice starts the balancing act, and it makes the rest of the year music.
Some miscellaneous extra days: I celebrate cinco de mayo (which many people mistakenly think is the Mexican Fourth of July) because, beer and tacos - somewhat the same way I celebrate St Patrick's day, except that doesn't have tacos. I celebrate Thanksgiving by going to this Indian restaurant we love. I really dislike turkey as a food substance. I don't think it should exist in that way. I celebrate Earth Day especially if it involves a good drum circle, but I think if we don't celebrate every day as earth day, we're fucked.
I celebrate Kris' and my "anniversary", which was the day she asked if she could crash here with her dog because her friend's cat was sick and her dog was disruptive and we were both working Fringe Fest and she lived kind of far out of town, and then she didn't leave after that.
So. Whatever it is you use to mark portions of your year and meaningful days, enjoy. Have fun, share love, try to get some drumming and dancing in. What do you celebrate?