The Definition of a Festival
The term festival derives from the common language and refers to a constellation of events, sacred and profane, private and public, innovative and nostalgic, and public and private. In addition, festival meaning may be broad enough to incorporate the avant-gardes of fine arts and the survival of archaic folk customs. The definition of a festival also extends to the creation of new festivals. However, this term is best used in the context of a festival.
Traditionally, a festival has a religious significance. It is a period of time marked by religious observances and communal feasting. Festivals can also be a series of events that occur regularly, usually at a particular place. Other cultural aspects include dancing, music, poetry, and movies, which are part of a festival. There is no single definition of a festival, but these events are often connected and synchronized with each other.
A feast, also known as a festival, is a day set aside to ritually commemorate an event, such as a religious holiday or harvest time. Historically, the terms feast and festival are synonymous. Almost all religions celebrate an annual festival, such as Easter, Passover, and Eid al-Adha. In Egypt, for instance, the Sed festival was celebrated every three years, after a pharaoh ruled the land.
In the dim past of human social history, feasts and festivals were religious, and only in recent centuries have scholars begun to study them. During this period, anthropologists, comparative folklorists, theologians, and psychoanalysts began studying the role of festivals in human societies. In addition, scholarly investigations of festivals and feasts have revealed how they shape modern people. These scholarly studies have uncovered important historical and social aspects of societies and religious institutions, including the relationship between religion and culture.
Other festivals are related to seasonal activities. For example, the Midsummer festival is tied to the celebration of the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere. This is especially important in Scandinavia. Other festivals, such as winter carnivals, commemorate different sporting events and creative activities. It is not surprising that festivals were created by the Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses III. The ancient Greek and Roman poets had their own interpretations of the festivals.