It has been impossible to avoid references to remembrance recently.
Not that I would want to avoid the most recent and particularly significant remembrance, but I am interested in the ways we choose to remember, collectively and individually, and where these meet.
See also Peter Mansell’s blog
Here is some old work from 2007, based on found poppies, which I have been continuing but have not yet re-presented.
Found ( 2007)
On Sunday, 10th November I passed some disappointed people who had been to the local cenotaph. I think they were expecting a service there at 11am, whereas it was held in the local parish church whilst the laying of wreaths and another silence, later at the cenotaph in the park.
Of course, this act of Remembrance has been moved,for the most part, from the actual day 11th at 11am, to a Sunday, the chosen day for religious worship for most Christian churches in the UK and a weekend.
Was it moved for convenience so that more people could attend or so the disruption would be less or become associated with Christian faith because we were a predominantly Christian country.
My mother told me in the ’70’s , how she could remember them stopping all the traffic at the nearby traffic lights and people turning off their engines.
What is silence then? Is that personal or collective?
Is it something within us or external to us.
In the UK contemporary collective ritual abounds at this time of year with Hallowe’en, Bonfire Night and Remembrance Sunday all interestingly close together in time and Christmas and New Year not far away.
So many markings of time in these few dark months.
February tends to miss out a bit but maybe we’ll invent a product oriented festival soon to compensate.
What fascinates me is the repetition and repeatability but also the way these marked days have evolved and changes over the centuries.
How some past elements remain within the contemporary practice.
At Michaelmas I remember my first term at University in Manchester, my academic diary and this evocative word, which meant for me the start of a new life.
When I worked in agriculture I became aware of the importance of Michaelmas day for landowners and tenants as being date when money was due, a legally binding date.
Then the arrival of the annual Mop fair in my now local town, where traditionally workers who had finished the harvest went to spend some of their earnings and have some fun.
Then stand with a mop if they needed to find new employment. There is an Old Michaelmas Day and a New one….. The new one being associated with the Archangel Michael and a Christian festival.
The old one, the last day for picking blackberries as the devil spits on them and makes them uneatable after this date.
This change overlaying the repetition is fascinating: the reasons why, and the collective acceptance of the change.
Many of the winter festivals originate in Celtic, Pagan or earlier timetables and have been adapted for contemporary use. Other cultures in other parts of our small world celebrating the same origin but in a very different way. Hallowe’en, Trick or Treat, All Hallows Eve, Day of the Dead, Glan Gaeaf.
All involve lights shining in the winter and usually fire or flame, and often some sort of exchange or gift, gathering in a particular location and avoiding others.
I am remembering, now, the work of Victor Turner and Rothenbuler regarding ritual and communication and Durkeim’s thoughts, and also Marcel Mauss.
I must re-read some of this to help analyse what I have done so far.