Here we are again in that strange in-between time. Christmas has come and gone, people are back at work, but there is a hesitant quality about it all because within a few days the partying starts again for New Year.
It always strikes me as a waste to have two festivals so close together. Not that I am averse to festivals: not at all. I just think they should be spaced out a little. Suppose, for example, that we moved Christmas to the summer: wouldn’t that be nice? Americans have Independence Day on July 4th, the French have Bastille Day on July 14th and I am sure that if you look around, you will find other nations celebrating similar festivals during the summer months. But what do we have in Britain?
If we moved Christmas to another part of the year, we could really give it some welly and still be ready and hungry for New Year in its turn. Wouldn’t that be a good idea? Well, I think so.
Failing that, why not invent an entirely new summer festival? I am told that in comparison with some countries, we in Britain are hard done by when it comes to public holidays. We could well afford to have a few more. Perhaps we could celebrate the Summer Solstice or just make something up. It would be interesting to watch the symbolism of the new festival evolve, a pleasant change from holly and mistletoe, reindeer and Christmas trees, and red dressing gowns trimmed with cotton wool.
Of course, it would become a commercial festival as well, just like Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and every other “day” that provides an opportunity for the retail trade and service industries to sell us stuff and generally gain access to our wallets.
But who cares? A party is still a party. I like the idea of people having fun and making merry on a public holiday. The great merit of New year is that it doesn’t depend on religion for its meaning. It depends solely on the calendar. If we had a Summer Festival that was similarly religion-free, everyone could join in. There would be no mean-spirited preaching about the “real meaning of the Summer Festival”; no one group could selfishly claim it for themselves.
Having talked it over, Tigger and I would vote for Solstice Day. There could be carnivals and fairs and, during the short hours of darkness, firework displays. People could feast on the beaches, in the parks and along the Thames. Imagine the dancing in the streets or in the fields, and the cities and villages decorated with greenery and flowers to celebrate the joy of summer.
Yes, that would do very nicely!