Celebration: What it is & why we celebrate

By Wendy Passmore Godfrey & Julia Babineau

Humans are social creatures and celebration is an ancient ritual. It gives us a way to feel good about ourselves, and our accomplishments. When we celebrate we are reinforcing something important to us.
We want to be social and celebrate our achievements with our family & friends. It is a way to collectively encourage and commemorate something significant (although the significance is defined by the individuals involved in the celebration itself).

What about anti-celebration?

It is when someone doesn’t want to participate in a day or occasion that is normally celebrated in society. Anti-celebration can be for personal reasons or due to beliefs. It can be not wanting to acknowledge a birthday due to age or from past trauma. Or, it can be protesting certain colonial holidays due to recent injustices (such as Canada Day).

What do puppets have to do with Celebration?

There is a very good article about this in the World Encyclopedia of Puppetry Arts.
It notes that puppets have been used in rites and rituals since their very inception. Archeologists have found articulated figures (puppets) across the world and vestiges of the ancient ceremonies are still preserved in some puppetry traditions.
Historically puppets have been used in ancestor celebration and creation myths, as instruments of healing, at festivals to invoke rain before a harvest or to bring for blessings and benevolence to a family or community.

In modern times puppets are often a means to express emotion and add to the meaning of the celebration. They can be utilized as entertainment & add to the joy of an event such as at a festival or birthday party. Giant puppets are often seen in parades – sometimes in protest or anti-celebration. Some puppet shows feature food, eating and other celebratory and community building activities into their performances, such as Bread and Puppet or Clay and Paper Theatre from Toronto.

Or, they can be applied as a means to approach a sensitive topic. They are a voice through which creative individuals have challenged authority and delivered powerful social messages.

Puppets play a broad role in contemporary society. They provide a creative platform to express controversial and significant social issues and can help modern minds in their quest to find effective and unique ways of generating fresh ideas and working collaboratively. Puppets can be a catalyst for thought-provoking experience and conversations that lead to new ways of perceiving contemporary life and its many social and cultural challenges.

Let us know your thoughts on Celebration, Anti-Celebration and how puppets play a role!
When submitting a Proposal to Puppet Power: Festival of Ideas, please relate to the theme of Celebration & please let us know if you have any questions.

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