July - Weird & Wonderful Celebrations

July is a month with an amazing variety of obsevances; Independence Day in the USA, May Day for Socialists, Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, International Free Hugs Day (!), Tynwald Day in the Isle of Man,
System Administrators Appreciation Day (someone should appreciate them or the internet would buckle and fail) and, I really couldn’t resist this, International Chocolate Day!

It all goes to show that we need time to celebrate throughout the calendar year.

But the keeping of times and seasons goes deeper than just “party time”.

Teams from the Universities of Manchester and Edinburgh have discovered that cells in a structure called
the ‘pars tuberalis’- respond according how much daylight there is, providing an internal genetic
calendar for mammals including humans.

The activity of these “calendar cells” changes dramatically over the year, with different proteins produced
in winter or summer months. This drives the seasonal cycle in mammals and even seasonal variation
in protection against infectious disease. We have an inbuilt sense of time and season.

Also, socially rather than biologically, there is a need for humans to identify with a particular community group
or tribe. One way of bonding social groups and families together is by keeping their own special festivals
and commemorations. This is like glue which reinforces a sense of belonging and loyalty.

Religious groups have always been strong on festivals, often according to the rhythm of nature and seasons of
the moon rather than artificial calendar dates. The most familiar include; Christian Christmas and Easter,
Hindu Diwali, Islamic Ramadan, Jewish Passover and Hanukkah, Sikh Birthday of Guru Nanak and so on...

Even for non-religious and secular groups there are national days and celebrations; Burns Night, Eisteddfod, Remembrance Day, Father’s Day, World Pride Days, Founders Days, National Leaders Days and many more.

OK here is the punch line; if this need to celebrate the passing seasons and our social networks is a core part
of being human, which group celebrations do you take part in?

The observance of Sunday is the most obvious weekly celebration - Christians say that every Sunday is,
in some way, a remembrance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Jesus commanded his friends, through all generations, to take bread and wine and remember Him in a regular shared celebration.

Is this your tradition too?

Fr. Andrew

Vicar of Hardwicke, Elmore and Longney Churches