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Holiday Days

Both big springtime holidays fall on the same weekend this year, and I'm in kind of a mood: feeling definitely overworked and also coming down with a low-grade cold. It's lead to some weird thoughts.

Both these holidays rely so much on the reiteration of the past, and in that way, they try to produce a recurrence of those events. What happens, both in the mass and at the seder, is a kind of time displacement. There is a level of reenactment that doesn't occur on other holidays, or is more intense than others. There might be a Nativity play around Christmas, but you're not necessarily in it. Not so much with Passover and Easter. There are roles, with speaking parts. Time is a thin sheet, we're pouring through it.

The weird thought that occurs to me now is that when I was younger I think that I perceived all holidays not as unique occurrences, but as fixed events that re-exist year after year after year. That there are specific ways of doing things, that history is locked in place, that what we did last year is what we will do again. And now that seems so clearly wrong, not because I think of my younger self as naive, but because I've lived long enough for all of my holidays to look radically different from what they were when I was young. That the returning holiday isn't the same holiday, but an entirely different day—a reinvention not a reiteration. It's mystical that way: we don't know what will appear when we arrive in its presence. It is a mystery.

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