The nature of life is constant change; the nature of tradition is holding fast to old ways. Hmmm…
It could very well be, knowing that the nature of man is so resistant to change and so fearful of the unknown, that traditions exist – at least partially – to soothe the minds of humanity, to allow humans to pretend, for a day or a week or a season, that they are cradled in the comfort of something they both know and can depend on.
On a day to day basis, the human body thrives on sameness and repetition. Bodies, being animal things, live in concert with the cycles of nature. One might think that simply by living in harmony with those cycles we would have enough validation about our lives but because we have minds, and because we have created a world in which many of those cycles are totally ignored (think night jobs, alarm clocks and Daylight Saving Time) for many people it is simply impossible to live in harmony with natural cycles. All the more reason to establish daily habits. A body without a regular schedule does not operate well. If we can establish a strong internal order through our own personal scheduling, honoring the cycles of our bodies, we ought to have all that we need to feel a part of the larger cycles of which we are a part.
The sun coming up and setting, the rhythm of the moon and the stars and the seasons, those natural and regularly occurring phenomena are, in a very big sense, a part of our human design, traditions so hard wired into our biology that we tend to take them for granted. If we didn’t take them for granted, we might not have to put so much stock in what we call holidays, a word clearly derived from the term holy days, which are, essentially, days that have been (artificially) designated by humans as both ‘special’ and ‘constant,’ when in reality, they are neither. The main Christian holidays, for instance, were a boldfaced reproduction of older pagan holidays, packaged in new wrappings to sell to a freshly baptized crowd. That had to do be done; old gods had to dressed in the guise of a new god, because people needed to be able to retain that sense of sameness that they so crave, they needed to be able to recognize the old god, the one they grew up with. Even “New Years” is made up, and differs from one tradition to another.
Tradition was religion’s gift to humanity, a gift that said, “You can depend on this.” Humanity liked that, especially as the world about began to pick up speed. Things are changing faster now than they ever have…or so it seems. But how it seems is all that matters and so people cling to whatever they can that allows them reprieve from the whirlwind even though that to which they cling so tightly may be nothing more than a manufactured crowd pleaser.
But the sun comes up every morning and the moon encircles the earth, both spectacular celestial events that actually regulate our bodies, and far too few people honor these timeless events. To do so would be a conscious act that could give us exactly what we need, a perfect sense of the magnificent power and dependability of the universe that has allowed us all life, a knowledge that there is something we can rely on, every day.