Holiday Traditions We Need
In America and Sweden, holidays come into being, become celebrated, wane in popularity and, eventually, disappear altogether. In the USA, England and other Western Nations before the Cold War overshadowed and threatened the day with May 1st political manifestations to proclaim International Socialism, children celebrated "May Day" by gathering flowers into paper baskets they had made in school and giving them to their teachers, parents and one another. It was a sweet contrast to the marching waves of soldiers, rolling cannons and rockets and shouting masses whose angry waving of red banners have obliterated the existence of this centuries-old springtime tradition.
The "eleventh month, eleventh day, eleventh hour, eleventh minute" was supposedly when the Versailles treaty was signed, ending World War I. Until the late fifties, and longer in some places, school classes stood solemnly, hands over hearts, facing the flag, to be thankful that this conflict - intended to be the last of all wars - was concluded. Gradually, the day was transformed so that all wars were memorialized, and the idea that they would be remembered surrendered to the impact of the glory of their inevitable, endless sacrificial carnage and victories.
Where are the holidays that are really fun?
These are few, far between - but those that are born become remarkably contagious on an international plateau.
While Halloween has different zany equivalents in Latin America, Africa, the Mideast and Asia, Christmas is ALMOST the same with a variation in emphasis among Western and Eastern Orthodox as to the celebration's highest point between the Nativity as compared to the Wise Men's arrival. In spring and in autumn, equinox might be expected to be a worldwide event, since the length of daytime is precisely the same around the entire world. But we all miss celebrating this obvious solar fact, and the once-revered ancient festivity has been relegated to a short mention by television weathermen. The longest and shortest days are about the same worth nowadays, although it might be confusing which was what depending on whether you were standing on the top side or bottom side of the earth.
Probably dating to the "slash and burn" age in Sweden, when the first woods were cleared for earliest planting, the currently unofficial holiday of Walberg is celebrated on the last day of April. It includes bonfires, folk dancing and small community gatherings throughout the country. Unique to Sweden, the fires dot the landscape and can easily be seen across international waters such as Íresund, where Danes often gather to marvel at the habit of their more-paganistic northern cousins.
Only a few such holidays celebrate peace, happiness, contentment and general tranquility WITHOUT periods of war, deprivation, oppression and suffering coming beforehand. Another of these cherished events will be upon us soon, Valentine's Day, and blissfully, this holiday of more recent vintage celebrates love itself has spread and been welcomes in Sweden with opened arms and hearts.
Okay, maybe the greeting cards, flower vendors and candy companies have done much promote this one-day event on February 14th. On the other hand, from the tiny "Be My Valentine" notes that school children pass among one another to the diamond rings that wealthy ladies receive from their loving husbands (if the spouses know what's good for them!), this is a holiday without much protest and with an abundance of participation.