IF IT WEREN’T for Christmas, would Dec. 25 be just another day? Perhaps. But it doesn’t take much to see that here in Kamloops, and around the world, people find ways to celebrate, and more importantly build community. Across religions and cultures, people love festivals and celebrations.
While Christmas on Dec. 25 seems to get bigger every year, with more and more elaborate light shows, special events and gift exchanges, it is not the only festival that brings us together, here in Kamloops, and around the world. While Christmas is celebrated as the birth of Jesus by Christians, it’s celebrated by non-Christians as well.
There are a host of other festivals that Kamloops celebrates as well.
Orthodox Christians in Kamloops and around the world celebrate Christmas on Jan. 7, the date of Christmas on the Gregorian calendar. The food on this day is as equally delicious as on Dec. 25.
On Jan. 25, Chinese New Year will be celebrated. In Kamloops, local Chinese restaurants are filled with families enjoying Chinese cuisine and watching the dragon dance.
On the exact same day, Jan. 25, Robbie Burns Day is celebrated with bagpipes, haggis, and kilts. Both the Chinese New Year’s celebration and the Robbie Burns Day dinner will be packed in Kamloops by people with and without any ancestral connection to China and Scotland.
On March 17, everyone is Irish for a day, for St. Patrick’s Day, celebrating the coming of Christianity to Ireland with the arrival of St. Patrick, but more broadly celebrating all things Irish.
Vaisakhi is the Sikh New Years festival celebrated in April. People throw coloured powder on each other until everyone looks like a rainbow. This year’s celebration in Riverside Park will bring together international students from Thompson Rivers University as well as Kamloopsians.
On May 24, local Muslims will celebrate the end of Ramadan with the festival of Eid al-Fitr. The local Islamic community and their friends gather for a meal and celebration.
Then on July 1, Canada Day, 40,000 plus people will descend on Riverside Part to celebrate our country’s birthday.
On the August long weekend, the Kamloopa Pow Wow, hosted by Tk’emlups te Secwepemc, is one of the largest celebrations of First Nations traditions in Canada. Thousands from Kamloops and around the world attend.
Thanksgiving in October celebrating the bounty of the harvest, and Diwali, celebrated by Hindus and Sikhs, in November celebrates light over darkness. These are two other festivals that bring people together here in Kamloops and around the world.
And just before Christmas each year, Hanukkah, with eight days of lighting candles to celebrate Jews uprising against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the 2nd century B.C..
Here in Kamloops, again and again, festivals bring people together, across cultural backgrounds and religious beliefs. There is an inherent desire for people to celebrate goodness, peace, and fellowship.
Christmas festivities grow because it brings us closer together. For the same reason, celebrations throughout the year help make people in Kamloops a stronger community.
Merry Christmas. And in the coming year, enjoy the celebrations we share with each other.
Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.