Anyway, Celtic festivals gave way to Roman festivals and as we all know, the Romans were like the Borg – they didn’t invent culture so much as just subsume every culture they conquered in a sort of Necromonkey “you keep what you kill” sort of thing. You with me so far? Actually, Romans were the very originators of the “when in Rome” principle, being enlightened rulers that allowed local governments to maintain control of areas conquered by Rome. So it’s more a “when not in Rome” sort of thing. When your homeland was conquered, instead of giving up all your naked, drunken merrymaking, you just added a whole batch of new holidays. I’m assuming that after absorbing most of Europe with the customs and festivities of hundreds of tiny city-states, Rome eventually fell because everyone was too busy partying naked to do any infrastructure work.
But I digress….
I was talking about the Celts. Those ancient Gandolfs (Gandolves? I’m not sure of the proper spelling, here.) of Albion who held the oak and the mistletoe sacred only because they didn’t have driveways and sidewalks to worry about and so didn’t know any better. And about how people tend to look on ancient ways as being closer to some source of spirituality.
Ancient people were closer to many things – fleas, early death and raw pork among them – but I somehow doubt that they were closer to any concept of God than you or I could be today. Early Celtic rituals followed the rhythms of planting and sowing, as agriculture was one of the civilizing forces of the ancient world. When early man discovered that he could throw down the seed of the fruit he ate and it would make a tree that created more fruit, he set about in that charming, hairy way that early man had to cultivate fruit and grain, making it possible to stay in one place long enough to make crude shelters out of rocks and twigs, having not yet discovered Ikea.
Because early man had no way of knowing whether this summer would be dry or the frost would last too late for good planting, ritual developed to please the gods, telling them “No, really, you like us. We’re putting on a nice theater for you so that you’ll reward us with plentiful harvest!” Poor growing conditions were often associated with displeased gods, having been displeased by the lousy performances by the participants in the festivities – those to blame for the bad harvest were starved out of their homes, or worse. This is one reason why, to this day, actors are mostly poor and looked down upon by society.
Anyway, that’s not my point, either (although it was pretty good, don’t you think?). My point is that we’re no longer painting ourselves blue. Come to think of it, the ancestors of some pagans I know NEVER painted themselves blue. Their bodies were already colors that wouldn’t look good in blue AT ALL. So maybe early peoples did have some knowledge that’s been lost.
Oh, man. This is like the ADD post.
What I’m trying to say is that your livelihood probably does not depend at all on whether there’s a good harvest this year. You don’t need to worry about whether there’ll be a plague of locusts or a drought. Monsanto and Archer Daniels Midland worry about all of that FOR you (think of that the next time you bitch about agribusiness). They hold large, corporate Samhain parties and giant naked Bealtaine orgies so that YOU DON’T HAVE TO.
What’s likely more important for you are things that are a little closer to home. I’m proposing some entirely new holidays that are more closely tied to what actually matters in our current existence: The Corporation (long may it be profitable).
The Corporation celebrates several holidays year-round. Because 75% of companies have fiscal years that coincide with the calendar year, these holidays are celebrated on that calendar, as is our great tradition of Fuck the Minority.
The Reporting Cycle: These festivals take place four times a year, in March, June, September and December. Celebrations include The Big Rush to Make the Numbers (an entire week where adherents are expected to fast by skipping lunch, atone for their mistakes during the quarter and work fifteen-hour days), the Quarterly Earnings Call, and a symbolic bear baiting.
The Laying of Off: This is a yearly festival normally held at the end of December, where some employees are ritually sacrificed to appease the stockholders with the hopes of improving the company’s bottom line in the year to come. Many prayers of thanks are normally said by those who are still employed.
The Company Offsite: All employee adherents must make the pilgrimage to a site to be announced in an email at the last minute. The Offsite includes spiritual “teambuilding” exercises meant to allow adherents to grow in their appreciation of the time The Company graciously allows them to spend at home, away from co-workers.
The W-2 Mailing: This is the time when employees are given written reminders of just how much The Company loves them with a form that they can then show to others to prove their worth. Those others, though, consist mainly of the federal and state governments and spouses and ex-spouses.
Casual Friday: Every great religion decrees that there should be one day when its adherents can relax, and The Corporation allows that every Friday, you can wear clothes that are not necessarily dry-clean only.
Most of you are already celebrating on this schedule, and that’s good. It’ll come as less of a shock to you once it’s official. For those of you who aren’t on the program: be very careful, my friends, lest you be chosen to participate in a ceremonial Firing.