Why Celebrate a Holiday of Others? If you've ever celebrated Chinese New Year, Octoberfest or St. Patrick's Day even though you're not Chinese, German or Irish, Dr. Fiore helps explain why. BY DR. NEIL FIORE
You don't have to be Irish to appreciate St. Patrick's Day
“ The more the event is different from our own family traditions, the more we feel excited, playful and adventurous and ready to abandon ourselves to having fun.”
Why do I celebrate holidays, like St. Patrick's Day, that don't have anything to do with me or my spouse?
Do you ever wonder why your spouse must celebrate every holiday even though it's not their own? It's part of a group psychology to be part of what's going on with any gathering of our fellow human beings. Even when we're unfamiliar with the traditions, we can relate to the human need to gather together and share ancient stories and rituals regardless of our birthplace or language.
The brain is always interested in problem solving and in discovering new ways of finding joy in a life that is sometimes overwhelmingly complex and difficult. When we discover that others have an inventive way of coping with life, we want to partake and learn how to join in the spirit of the party, the dance and the balancing of our lives to celebrate and share—in all of their traditions. The more the event is different from our own family traditions, the more we feel excited, playful and adventurous and ready to abandon ourselves to having fun. It's a bit like traveling to a foreign country and reverting to an earlier stage of life when we had to learn new words in order to be fed and buy what we want. These holidays re-ignite in us our child-like sense of wonder and openness to the world and its wondrous diversity.
So, in essence, a party is a natural escape from the routine and toil of everyday life and is a reminder that we belong to a group much larger than our family of origin. If the celebration includes exotic food, alcohol, music and customs, our curiosity takes over and we're all too willing to discover another way of expressing the joyful aspects of the human spirit. Sound familiar?
And that's when it happens. The green beer has you trying an Irish jig or a Greek or Russian dance, which causes you to make a fool of yourself or pull a back muscle. Perhaps both. But you can get into the spirit of the holiday without overdoing it. The point is not to use such occasions as an excuse to drink until you're unconscious, but to stay conscious and sober enough to join with others in celebrating life. So enjoy the celebration as a couple and share your natural eagerness to join with others in play.
Neil Fiore, PhD is a psychologist, coach, speaker, and author of "Awaken Your Strongest Self: Break Free of Stress, Inner Conflict, and Self-Sabotage" (McGraw-Hill, 2006). Go to www.neilfiore.com for "Free Tips and Articles," CDs, and Neil's motivational newsletter. Neil Fiore’s 7-hour CD version of "The Now Habit" is also available on iTunes and www.audible.com.