You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘celebration’ tag.

Still more winter ahead forecasts Punxsutawney Phil as our country observes this quirky holiday, each February 2nd.

Yet, it’s not as quirky as you might think, rooted as it was in the Roman feast of Lupercalia, celebrated in early February; then, a rural people, they sought their god’s protection from wolves ravishing their herds. Purification of their farms and lands also abounded. From these humble beginnings emerged a priesthood and sanctuary on Palatine Hill, its ritual practices enlivening participants for centuries. Without them, Emperors feared for Rome’s safety.

The Celts also revered this February festival that marked the mid-point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.

And with the spread of Christianity in the late fourth century CE came its replacement on February 2nd : the feast of Light or Candlemas celebrating the presentation of Jesus, bearer of Light, at the Jerusalem Temple and the ritual purification of Mary, forty days after the solemnity of Christmas. Worshipers brought candles from their homes to have them blessed. 

Further tweaking of Candlemas occurred among emigrants from German-speaking countries, settling in America in the 1700s. Its morphing into the realm of superstition is curious: first, the badger; then, the fox; then, the wolf—all sought the light in February’s dark; then came the groundhog.

Its earliest mention is found in the diary entry of James L. Morris on February 2, 1840. And in 1887, a Punxsutawney newspaper first printed the observance of the holiday, Groundhog Day, at Gobbler’s Knob—And Punxsutawney Phil still gets our nod every February 2nd.

An overview of these centuries of mid-winter celebrations speaks of our dependence upon light and new beginnings and hope, in whatever story form.

Trick or treaters, masked as princesses, pirates, ghouls, inflated by assumed identities, may again canvas our neighborhoods this Halloween, their parents watching from the sidewalks. Winds will nip ankles, flit crisped leaves across lawns beneath a waning moon. The drama, the hilarity will deepen.

Perhaps you have also donned a mask for such haunts when a kid or for Mardi Gras carnivals? Perhaps experienced masked performers in a play or ritual performances of native peoples? Or worn masks for Covid protection? Or still do?

You are not alone. Peoples from cultures all over the world have donned masks for such purposes. The oldest one, made of stone, dates back to 7000 B.C., the pre-ceramic Neolithic period; it is kept in the Bible and Holy Land Museum in Paris, France.

But there is another way of considering masks.

As children growing up in troubled families, we can develop masks or defense mechanisms that later thwart significant relationships in family and at work. A gnawing emptiness results. Nothing is significant. Addictive behaviors soon follow. Some visit the consulting rooms of psychologists or other helpers and begin the painful process of owning their self-constructed masks and learning to discard them.  Perhaps for the first time in their lives, they experience their spiritual center and live from this Source. They thrive, at whatever age.

I know. I’ve been through this process. And here is the result – I keep it in my study!

At 6:40 A.M., I awoke with this hilarious dream:

I’m visiting a new friend in Rome, Italy, the October morning shadowing our steps toward the square thronged with shoppers. We buy food, then climb aboard her double-seated Vesta and set off for the day—a new experience for me.

In no time, we’re roaring down country roads, my friend’s thick blond hair snaking around her red helmet, the same color as her Vesta. Her heavyset body sways with the turns of the dirt roads, and I with her, holding her girth between my arms. Merriment exudes from her spirit like splashing spring waters. My mouth aches from laughter.

Beneath ancient water chestnut trees near an abandoned farm, we stop. The hilarity continues as she tears apart baguettes, then offers me Brie cheese, with red grapes and wine. Even the ravens, strut in tall grasses nearby.

The dream’s setting, Rome, Italy, suggested the center of Christianity into which I was initially enculturated until directed to search deeper for the Cosmic Christ in all of creation. Dire compliance of the rules and regulations no longer drew fire.

October morning spoke of bright aging filled with even deeper opportunities for learning prior to my transition.

The new friend revealed Precious God, disguised as a swarthy French laborer, intent upon opening me to the laughter of living: She smelled of earth. She swept the floors of my closed mind and threw open its grimy windows to another world, the one that awaits me. No longer was it appropriate to grieve my diminishment—just watch it happen and let it go. To strengthen my resolve, she also offered me communion. And she’s still in the driver’s seat.

Composing this blog still evokes laughter …

Available on Amazon

%d bloggers like this: