Last weekend Canberra celebrated her 100th birthday with a weekend of festivities and activities to inspire and delight all ages. Celebration happens across the world for lots of different reasons. In the western world we follow the Gregorian calendar and celebrate Easter and Christmas as very big events. In other parts of the world with different religious majorities events are celebrated associated with their religious beliefs such as Ramadan, Hanukkah, Holi and other religious festivities. We celebrate the New Year on 1 January whereas Chinese celebrate Chinese New Year in February.
Countries, states, cities and towns have special events that bring the community together. Here in Australia, ANZAC day has developed into a very big event to celebrate and remember our service people who have contributed to our country’s freedom that we hold so dearly. And, in typical Australian fashion we have a horse race that “stops the nation” on the first Tuesday in November!
Birthdays are another celebratory event across the world. Lauren turned 21 last year with a lovely party here at home. She was the last of our six children to turn 21. Our next big family celebrations will probably be to do with relationships – engagements and weddings.
Other significant events we celebrate (which I will be celebrating again in 3 years when I finish my Doctorate!) are graduations. School, TAFE, university etc are all wonderful milestones to acknowledge effort and achievement. This goes for sports, races and other events where we stretch ourselves.
On a very different note, we celebrate people’s lives at the time of their birth and death, and each year places like Mexico celebrate The Day of the Dead, and Japan celebrates O-Bon remembering the souls of their departed loved ones.
It is interesting to think about why we part take in these events and what their significance is in our lives. For myself, I love celebrations, especially birthdays and Christmas where there is a wonderful tradition of feasting and gift giving. The reason I love these is that it very consciously acknowledges people for their importance in my life, and gives us a chance to come together, even if it is over the telephone, and make contact for a special shared reason (and no, I don’t think that SMS texts count as contact!).
Celebrations enable us to share. An important aspect of this usually involves sharing food. I was chatting with one of my very good friends yesterday. Her daughter has just become engaged and she is hosting the engagement party in a few weeks. We spoke about the food that she will serve and how it is very important for her because we nurture through food.
Another aspect of celebrations involves dress. Across the world, different countries and cultures have special dress that is used for celebrations. This always justifies a new outfit for a special event!
Celebrations play a really important role in our holistic wellbeing. They affect us physically, cognitively, emotionally, socially and spiritually:
- Physically, as we are involved and enjoying celebrations we secrete both dopamine and serotonin which make us feel good – they are our happy chemicals!
- Emotionally, we feel part of a group and a sense of belonging. It also helps us through the grieving process.
- Cognitively we learn about and foster celebrations, rites of passage, and our cultural and family values. These give meaning and purpose to our lives which are vitally important for wellbeing.
- Spiritually most people in the world have some form of practice that acknowledges a universal presence or energy, be it God, Allah, Buddha, Source etc.
Celebrations don’t have to be big events. Daily practices of gratitude also give us numerous opportunities to celebrate, bathing our brain in serotonin and feeling good! This can be consciously acknowledging a daily meal with family or friends to taking time to celebrate that you woke up refreshed in the morning – everything contributes!
Find occasions to celebrate your happiness.
There is more to celebrate than anniversaries and birthdays.