Conor Capplis and Aaron Collier investigate the rising popularity of modern inversion rituals within festivals around the world.
Traditionally, Christmas and Easter are two pivotal festivals within the Irish calendar. They represent times of great celebration for Christians, and from an early age, Irish children are taught about these traditions. Recently, in more urban areas in Ireland, where there is a growing diversity with the population, we see a diversity in the culture, with new traditions being established and new ways of celebrating heritage being carried out.
As we celebrate the festival of Halloween, with all the ‘trick-or-treating’ and clubbing, we sometimes forget to take a look at the multitude of interesting festivals and traditions around the world, that allow people to go nuts and break the social norms of our society in a healthy way. From the extravagant displays of colour and joy in the Pride festivals around the world, to the sheer luminescence within Mardi Gras, and the vibrancy of Brazil’s carnivals; what makes people partake in these crazy festivals?
Festivals and celebrations are present in all cultures and societies, and most of them serve as an avenue for the release of stress. These types of festivals serve as a way to link us with our past and our cultures, but the traditions have been changed to be a part of modern society. When we think of inversion festivals our minds drift to exotic cultural events like the Indian Holi festival or the Brazilian carnivals, but our societies create their own modern forms of festive expression in events like Coachella and the Glastonbury festival.
A revolutionary study by Daisy Fancourt and Aaron Williamon has shown that the overall stress hormones of festival-goers decrease after attending a concert/festival, which means that these inversion rituals are good for the body and good for the mind.
“While festivals give us the opportunity to break away from our mundane lives, they can also help us learn more about ourselves and provide us with life-long skills and memories.”
While festivals give us the opportunity to break away from our mundane lives, they can also help us learn more about ourselves and provide us with life-long skills and memories. Take a look at the Burning Man festival in the Nevada Desert, for example. The popular event is governed by ten main constructive principles, “radical” inclusion, self-reliance, and self-expression, as well as community cooperation, civic responsibility, gifting, decommodification, participation, immediacy, and leaving no trace.
Looking closer to home, St. Patrick’s Day is near and dear to our hearts. It allows us to connect to our cultural roots, while also taking a break from our day-to-day lives. On New Year’s Eve, past inhibitions are let go and people look optimistically towards the future. In a continually globalising era, it is more important than ever that we preserve these forms of expression through inversion festivals as it promotes the preservation of culture and community and allows people to experience various ways of expression within different societies.
For those who celebrate it, Halloween in the modern day is a method for social cohesion and community spirit. It allows neighbours to get to know each other and form closer connections with those around them. Through these less-stressful interactions, people feel happier in their surroundings and are more inclined to feel settled within their community. Moderate levels of stress through the legal braking of social norms within inversion festivals can also serve as a good thing for people, as it pushes them out of their comfort zone and allows people to trivialise their fears through the means of Halloween.
“One can view artful floats promoting diversity of the local population, accompanied by free-spirited people enjoying themselves without any fear of being criticised for who they are.”
If we look at the Mardi Gras festival, it prioritises freedom of expression, diversity, equality and positivity of those who participate. One can view artful floats promoting diversity of the local population, accompanied by free-spirited people enjoying themselves without any fear of being criticised for who they are. Through these types of displays, Mardi Gras allows people who typically feel marginalised within their communities, to express themselves in a free and unhindered manor, inspiring others to follow suit.
Pride festivals and parades have also given an opportunity for those who are often marginalised in society to express themselves in an open and free manor. In Dublin thousands of people from all walks of life turned out for the LGBTQ+ Pride Parade this year, and showed support for their friends and families. Across the globe, the shedding of inhibitions and the exhibition of differences are celebrated and should be continually supported by all free-spirited people alike. It allows us to form integral relationships with those around us, and in an increasingly Internet-fuelled age, many people construct a façade to avoid showing their true selves. Through these types of inversion festivals, the mask is broken for one and all.