Saturday, 29 November 2008

Traditions, going forward.

Celebration #7 - Turtlekiss.

Windblownbutterfly (Susan) asked if, as an atheist, I would prefer not to see Christmas at all. This was after I bah-humbugged about Christmas gumph appearing in the shops here mid-November. Separately, Diane asked what traditions I do observe. I have decided to kill the questions of two birds with one…uh…post.

First and foremost, from my reading in psychology, I am a great believer that looking forward to things is a big positive in any person’s life. Depression thrives in looking backwards. So with that in mind, I love traditions and festivals. But I don’t delve deeply into their meaning.

Christmas and Easter are great eat-fests. What we eat for Christmas can vary enormously as the weather here is totally unpredictable in December, anything from 12-38 deg C is on the cards (54-100 degF). Easter is less foody but must have hot cross buns on Good Friday, and only Good Friday, even though they are in the shops on Boxing Day. And chocolate eggs only on Easter Sunday.

So I am more fundamental that many Christians on those ones, Susan!

My gripe with the celebrations is not that they happen, but that the retailers have made them so long they lose their special nature. This gets back to my thesis on the benefits of looking forward to festivals and special occasions. Easter runs for up to four months in the shops; how do you make it special at the correct time? For most people bun-fatigue has set in long before Easter arrives.

Also on our calendar is Halloween, something not celebrated greatly in Australia because it is “an American thing”. Don’t say that to any Celts of your acquaintance though, it long predates the US. But we have our own particular Halloween dinner each year, centring around the dessert: mud, blood & poached brains; made every year by popular request.

January 25th is Burns Day and last year we tracked down a butcher who made Haggis and ate it with all due ceremony (served with neeps and whiskey, accompanied by the reading of Burn’s poem to the Haggis).

The following day is Australia Day and roast lamb is obligatory.

St Patrick’s Day gets a mention too, if only as an excuse to have a Guinness. Bloom’s Day is equally popular, if less intelligible.

Pancake Tuesday will be properly adorned with pancakes, of course.

St Valentines Day is celebrated for itself and because it is our half anniversary. Of course, the anniversary proper is duly celebrated too.

Sundry other celebrations that appear in our calendar include birthdays and such like.

The remaining one, and it is a big one, is every Saturday night, when we are home, I do a three course candle-lit dinner. Tonight is the first time for yonks that there is just the two of us; usually there is a flux of family and friends happy to participate.

So, I have no qualms about celebrating religious festivals and pagan ones too.

Just don’t ask me to buy the story behind them.

Now, time to cook dinner.



  1. Mum says that fewer and fewer people in the UK know what lies behind any of the 'special' days. Mum's like you - she sees these days as excuses for a good drinking and eating fest. When mum worked in the UK, Friday night was mum & Uncle Hugh's weekly celebration. They'd get seriously drunk on champagne and seriously stuffed on good food. Those were the days when mum could afford champagne:)

  2. I hate it when every single holiday is commercialized..there's even Independence Day Sale which make me frown..why do you need to shop on the day you're supposed to be patriotic? In our largely British-influenced country, we even have people selling Halloween costumes now..(I don't think there's many Celtic at all here).

    But it must be nice being in your house when all holidays mean food feast!

  3. it all sounds absolutely yummy! But pancake Tues? Have never heard of that (nor of celebrating Halloween with a meal, for that matter!)

  4. Thanks. Religous holidays hold no meaning for me either... I'm pretty much agnostic, so the Christian meanings have no sigificance. Food is always a great way to celebrate anything... too bad I can't cook :). Can I come to your house? :)

  5. I agree, the commercialization of these holidays is just sickening, whether you're the religious sort or not. Seems like, around here at least, the stores are in such a hurry to get you to Christmas that people don't have time to really concentrate on and appreciate anything before it, like Halloween and Thanksgiving. And Black Friday is a disgrace, truly a disgrace. After working retail the day after Thanksgiving (and the day after Christmas) for several years, I have made a solemn promise to myself that I will not, except under threat of death, go to any store on those days. There is no bargain great enough to make it worth it to me. When people are gathering the day before and then stampeding and trampling each other to fight over the limited supply of whatever this year's must have gift is, it should be obvious that there is something terribly wrong. :-(

    (I envy your Saturday night tradition..sounds wonderful)

  6. Hayden: Pancake Tuesday is Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, prior to Lent.

    Supposedly it was a way of using up stuff in the kitchen that couldn't be kept over Lent or eaten during it.

  7. I am thinking that you are being in need of having the Indian religious calendar. If you are so doing then you are having many chances to be holding teh festivals. May Marigold, the saffron tinted goddess of river pollution bless your chapatti.

  8. I love some traditions - gift giving special food balloons dancing laughing good time traditions. The only meaning I need behind them is the one I give them... obligatory roast lamb sounds great

  9. it's always about the food, isn't it? :D

  10. its pretty much any opportunity to eat and drink. and if theres food and drink, you can almost always count me in.
    the commercialization of it (any of it) will always be, and to greater and greater degrees as the powers that be figure out more ways to sell to the masses.

  11. Chrissie decorations was out in Oct, it's a disgrace I think too. We celebrate Christian celebrations because I was raised in that way but I'm very careful of what I belief,how I belief and what I allow people to just tell me, I think my strict upbringing touched a bit of brain washing just for the sake of religion "what will people think of us". I belief at the end of the day there is and could have been a deeper meaning to it and not just because the Bible said so.

    Great thought provocative post again Lee.

  12. Excellent post, as usual, but I'm amazed at the number of celebrations you managed to find. Good on you! I think I need to find some more celebrations for us.

  13. I like your explanation for how you enjoy the 'traditional' holiday occasions. Must remember this!


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