Popular Festivals of the Modern World
A festival is basically an occasion usually celebrated by a group and centering around some particular characteristic feature of that group or its religion or customs. It can be regularly celebrated throughout the year, or annually in some cases, or perhaps only seasonally. In some countries, a festival is a vital part of the cultural life, marking certain occasions and events, such as harvest, new year, a celebration of some sort, holiday, or sporting event. It can also mark the end of some religious period or rite. The word festival comes from the German word Flageuse, which means to draw close to nature.
One of the most common types of festivals celebrated nowadays are the Christmas and Valentine’s Day feasts, more popularly known as festival feasts. These can either be national events, like the Christmas tree ornaments festival, or very locally-celebrated, such as the St. Patrick’s Day festival in Ireland. In both cases, the main aspect is usually a dinner or banquet, with alcoholic drinks and foods being the norm. The main characters, either characters from mythology, folklore, or history, are depicted in the costumes worn during the feast, and in some cases, the festival is accompanied by parades, which are large events involving hundreds of people. Both medieval and modern times, this type of celebration has been widely celebrated, and in many parts of the world, it is still a major source of income for people involved in the food industry, as it provides a ready supply of foodstuffs for those attending.
A different type of yearly festival, which is not centered around food but is similar in many ways to it, is the New Year’s Festival. This is also largely held on January first, and follows the Jewish Passover festival, which commemorates the last day of the year before the Jewish New Year begins. Unlike the Christian Passover festival, the New Year’s Festival is not centered around any special food, but instead is just a gathering of family and friends to celebrate the new year. Themes and traditions of this type of celebration include: the putting of new candles in the home; the celebration of giving and receiving gifts; eating cakes; the wearing of New Year’s clothes; and New Year’s Eve.
Hindu religious celebrations also include the New Year, which is also known as Diwali. The festival celebrates the triumph of good over evil, and involves multiple feasts, prayers, and rituals. In India, however, instead of rice being sacrificed to appease the gods, they use banana leaves. This festival is widely celebrated in the northern region of India, as it coincides with Durga Puja, a major religious festival.
There are a number of feasts celebrated around the world on different occasions. These feasts range from the relatively secular New Year’s Eve to the more traditionally devout Muslim feasts of Ramadan. In Asia, however, New Year’s Eve is the only major festival that coincides with the lunar calendar, so no festival occurs on the same day everywhere. In Europe, Christianity and the Mediterranean celebrate springtime by having days of light and food. The Chinese believe the beginning of the year to be a time of complete rejuvenation.
Some traditions have survived throughout the course of time despite the removal of major elements, such as the shedding of sheep and the eating of fish on these dates. For example, New Year’s Day in some parts of the United States is marked by parades, which feature lots of firework displays, balloons, and loud music. In countries where the New Year’s Celebration is considered sacred by some, however, such as China, fireworks are used. Fireworks can be particularly important for marking important milestones, such as new years in Japan when the lanterns are used to mark the completion of school. New Years often also mark the beginning of the fasting period leading up to Chinese New Year, which is particularly important for farmers and fishermen.