The Jubilee celebrations mean that anniversaries are in the collective consciousness this week. These particular celebrations are, for many, a chance to put aside the doom and gloom of the economy, and hold street parties, pinning up bunting and holding pageants and festivals up and down the country. For some, it will be about getting involved with a local community, or meeting neighbours (sometimes for the first time).
Anniversaries are an important part of life. They remind us of important events, both personal and cultural. Whether we’re marking a birthday, a wedding or civil partnership, a momentous event, or the death of a loved one, an anniversary puts a pin on the calendar to remind us of something that matters to us. It’s a chance reflect on a relationship or a cultural identity, to come together to remember a person who’s died, or to celebrate a joyous event.
Whatever the anniversary, it gives us a chance to look back over the years since the event we’re marking, and reflect on how it has shaped us. Remembering the past (but without letting it rule us) can be an important part of understanding who we are.
Celebrating a wedding or partnership
Anniversaries often elicit mixed emotions. There can be pressure to do something amazing to mark the date of a wedding anniversary, for example. But it can be a wonderful way of regrouping your relationship. Doing something as simple as having a meal together and remembering the day you met, got engaged, married, or celebrated your partnership, can be a way of reminding yourself why you fell in love in the first place. It’s important to make time for each other in a relationship, but it’s inevitable that life just gets in the way sometimes. Work, chores, the school run – life conspires against us, and all too often our relationship is the thing that takes a back seat. So an anniversary is a good excuse to focus on your relationship, and perhaps set some goals for the year ahead. (For some great insight into how to express love in a relationship, see Fernanda Barros’ post on ‘attraction and the five love languages’ on our blog.) And of course it’s great to enjoy the big day with fireworks and flowers, parties and presents – but don’t forget to celebrate the things that matter to you on others days, too.
Marking the death of a loved one
But anniversaries aren’t always about celebration. Most of us will have a day when we remember a friend or family member who’s died, and no-one should feel embarrassed about feeling emotional or sad. It can be helpful if the people around you give you a little extra leeway on the day itself! Or make an extra effort to pick up the phone, or send a message so you know you’re not alone in thinking of that person. Sometimes creating a physical place where you can go to remember can be important and helpful – this might be a grave, but it could be a tree in the garden planted in memory – somewhere that reminds you of that person.
Remembering as a nation
There are fixed dates through the year when we share collective memories: to remember those who’ve died in wars and conflicts, or to mark the passing of time since an event like September 11th 2001 or Hillsborough, for example. They are important for communities to come together and remember events that have had a huge collective impact on the community, and have shaped its future.
But this weekend is about celebration, and a nation reflecting on cultural identity. I hope you’ve got something lovely planned for the holiday, and that the weather holds! Happy Jubilee Weekend all.