In Barbara Ehrenreich’s History of Collective Joy, humans used to partake in various celebrations, events, and rituals. The occasions were either festive such as Brazilian carnival or somber like if funerals (Ehrenreich 5). It comprised individuals escorted by pipes, drums, masks, and costumes, dancing and singing along the streets. These celebrations were regular and officially sanctioned among various communities. The author gives clear information on the reasons for the occurrence of these special events among communities. She explains the development stages, which the ceremonies passed through until the 21st century, and the role played by the events to participants (Ehrenreich 57). The main basis of this essay is to provide detailed information about the rituals, clear evaluation and analysis of the history of collective joy by Barbara Ehrenreich.
The rituals began with cave drawing and developed to celebrations of religious rites, weddings, preparations for war, healings, and sports events today. Ehrenreich suggests the application of harmonizing individual activities to a group occasions. The events occurrence required special components including beverages, food, costumes, body painting, masks, headgear, and music and dancing. They happened along streets in a parade, procession, cycle, or athletic contests. The main reasons were celebrations such as the rite of passage, weddings or harvest bounties, and consolation in situations of funerals. However, with little knowledge of the rituals in the Western culture, they consider the celebrations as primeval distractions. The western culture triggered the ban of traditional rituals among Naive Americans and slaves from Africa. Apart from the European cultures, others also perceive dance celebrations as spiritual and social revolutionary.
According to Ehrenreich (2007), expressing joy through ceremonies are as distinctive as the pursuit of shelter and meeting the consumer needs. In the case of the café, the consumers often need to eat, fresh and tastefully prepared food. The group excitement during the movement and signings created an involvement of shared pleasure that was both pleasant and therapeutic. The celebrations made a big difference compared to communicating verbally. The participants perceived the overjoyed feelings as an uninterrupted experience of their gods, non-interceded by clerics and translators. The attempt of the early churches to stop the entertaining services such as singing, dancing, and speaking in tongue, discouraged free childhood experience especially on their relationship with the fathers. Roethke contributes to an expression by the congregation. People got the motive to make collective gatherings, where they could celebrate their achievements with minimal or no restrictions.
Similar symbolism and rituals continued to exist until today in spite of encountering various challenges. Individuals celebrate the outcome and result of sports, examination results, political favors, and other life success. For instance, people appreciate the Olympic Game results by taking their best drinks and putting on relevant costumes to the team their supportive teams. According to the routine, players from various teams wear team costumes before the game begin. The parade and waving of national flag during the opening of the ceremonies especially in the Olympic Games and public holidays are major symbols of the celebrations. Besides, there is torch lighting at the beginning of the game, and the national anthem played during the medal ceremonials, which entertains the guests and spectators hence creating a sense of belonging.
The ancient Greek practiced dances and cave drawing in masks and costumes as the major part of their art. They had groundbreaking anniversaries like uplifting marches, military parades, and officers in uniforms (Ehrenreich 15). Missionaries never got pleased with the strange rituals they witnessed among Africans. However, the dancing, fire-lighting, outfits, African music, chanting and drumming drew the close and motivated their participation in such events. Similarly, today sports fans have their caps, jerseys, and t-shirts outfits decorated with the logo of their favorite teams. Some supporters endorse face and body painting depending on the team colors. They enjoy the music, songs, group movements, the screaming, and sway.
Today, public events such as holidays, ground openings, and congregations recognize and appreciate the existence of the traditional rituals. These ceremonies always begin with music and dances from different cultures with participants costumed in their special outfits. They have similar reasons for their occurrence such as the celebration of success by the nation or an individual achievement, just like the traditional rituals. For instance, the clan elders announced an occasion and a day set for it, where all came together to celebrate the outcome might be from wars, harvest or natural resource benefits. People attended with animals for slaughtering, food that nourishes love enhancing its growth and development. The comparison of music to food, and drinks accompanied by drumming, dances, and wise sayings.
The communal nature of humans, the motive to civilization cannot fully eradicate the compulsion for collective festivities. In spite of the strength and comfort, people get from strong family ties, religions, and institutions, the creation of opportunities for group experience and expression of joy is very important. The freedom of expression, especially where people are together with their friends and relatives, creates an opportunity to understand and appreciate one another. Most people prefer an individualist model of a lifestyle without realizing that it only adds boredom and loneliness in life. Traditional rituals, events, and ceremonies should not fade away as people try to accommodate civilization in the modern world.
Ehrenreich, Barbara. Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy. London: Granta Books, 2007. Print.
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