Think of the word 'celebrate' and what comes to mind? Dancing cartwheels? Singing 'a wop baba lumop and wop bam boo?' Or do you think of something with a little more sobriety? Perhaps sobriety and celebration don't go hand in hand?
Celebration – celebratium; meaning ‘much-frequented.’ It is a past participle of celebrare, meaning ‘assemble to honour,’ or ‘to publish; sing praises of; practice often.’ It is sometimes used to refer to an action to perform a sacrament or solemn ceremony publicly and with appropriate rites. In this sense, as a communal action, we are celebrating only with and alongside others.
'Solemn ceremonies’ is a term that we frequently read or hear about. Although solemn may not be the first word that springs to mind when we think of the word ‘celebration.’ When we think of celebration we sometimes think of something that is fun and of good cheer and so it takes on a more joyful complexion in our imaginations. For example, at a birthday party the tradition of celebration is more easily imagined. But essentially, what is happening here is that a group of people are gathering around a person to honour that person’s birthday. Likewise, at the celebration of a person’s life or achievement, a group of people meet to honour that life or to pay homage to a specific accomplishment. In whatever context, honour seems to be the common denominator. And so, to constitute a celebration there should be first the subject, and then a collective desire to honour the subject, whether that be in a joyful manner or by way of condolence. Either way, to celebrate is to collectively commemorate, to observe, honour, recognise and remember. It can also mean that we do something special or important and a way of formalising a collective desire.
It seems that celebration is an innate human trait; it's something we have done together for as far back in history as we have historical records. It is how we mark our transitional moments; honour successes and acknowledge our personal growth.
How we celebrate is of course, a matter for personal choice and appropriateness, but celebrate we surely must!