Holidays & Heritage: How Celebrating Culture Connects Us to Our Readers

Today is St. Patrick’s Day, a holiday commonly known to collect crowds of hundreds and thousands worldwide—all in celebration of the culture that surrounds this historic holiday.

But, today, March 17, 2020, the crowds will not gather.

In cities and countries all over the world, cancellations due to the threat of the Coronavirus has brought an abrupt halt to even th​is​ holiday​ that​ many hold so close to heart.

In a time, such as this, how can writers follow through in courage with the call to write? How can we harness hope and keep pressing publish on the words that we long to bring to the world?

How Celebrating Culture Connects Us to Our Readers

If you’re stuck at home—wondering how in the world to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day without floats, parades, green beads and leis—lean in.

Writers, now, more than ever before, we can celebrate culture with words that can reach the world—even while we wait to be released to gather in crowds again.

  • So if you’re stuck at home, wondering how in the world to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day without floats, without parades, without green beads and leis, lean in.
  • And if you’re stuck in your heart with knowing how to leverage the legacy of your family—the holidays and heritage you hold close to your heart, lean in.

Together—let’s learn how celebrating our culture can connect us to our readers.


Relate

As we unravel the history of our people—the stories of success and sacrifice and struggle that make us who we are—we relate to those whose narratives are near to ours.

As a mixed woman, of African American, Irish, Dutch, and Native American (Ramapough Lenape Nation) descent, I have struggled with this, strongly. While I tried to grab hold of one aspect of my heritage, I’d notice my fingers losing grip on another. The more I isolated the different parts of my story, the more I lost all parts of my story.

I have learned that I can’t write about one aspect of my culture, without unraveling another. And that, sometimes, as messy as it seems and feels, I may not be able to write in ways that are compact and clean.

Culture is often not compact and clean. So how or why should we expect or demand that of our writing, our stories?

We must write the words that resonate most with us—always tapping into the things, and people, and places that make up who we are.

As we do this, unconsciously and effortlessly, we extend invitation for relation—opportunities for others to see their stories reflected in ours.

Relay

Here’s a riddle:

How many people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day even though they are not Irish?

Too many to count.

The truth is, crowds of thousands are compelled to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day because celebration is contagious—we thrive on festivities that focus on faith, fun, family, and feeling seen and known.

Through county parades and community events, the Irish have welcomed the whole into their story—into the heritage of their homeland and this holiday that seeks to solidify the story of its people.

Writers, too—with our words—can welcome the world into our stories. It might look like typing on a computer from a work station rather than crowded streets in celebration. Even still, in this, we relay the things we know and love.

Restore

On October 15, 1962, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. met with the faculty and members of the student body of Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa to give a speech. He spoke these words to address the thoughts and the concerns of people who wondered if “any real progress in the area of race relations” was being made. The following is a quote from the speech he gave:

I am convinced that men hate each other because they fear each other. They fear each other because they don’t know each other, and they don’t know each other because they don’t communicate with each other, and they don’t communicate with each other because they are separated from each other.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The words that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke then, still ring true today. Fear and separation still exist between so many of us—not merely because we are different and not because reconciliation is impossible.

However different—however white, however black, however grey the fifty shades in-between may be—may we continue to use our words to communicate our stories. In this, we will connect with those around us, as well as those who read our words.

We can’t just tell our stories, we must share our stories—always extending and expanding ourselves beyond what we relate to. All while always opening ourselves—again and again and again—to receive that which others are trying to relay to us.

As Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in his speech, we sometimes settle for living “in monologue, rather than dialogue.”

But writers have a choice.

We can speak in monologues.

Or, we can use our words to share stories that celebrate who we are and where we are from, all the while entering into the stories of others.

When can gather, and then engage in, the narratives of others. A back and forth of written, spoken, and virtual words that restore as they seek to relate and relay—anywhere, at anytime.

Regardless of whether we can gather in crowds, or not.


Rachel Kang is a writer, editor, and the creator of Indelible Ink Writers, an online writing community. Her writing has been featured in The Daily Grace Co., {in}courage, Charlotte Magazine, and Christianity Today.​ ​Meet Rachel and read her writing at www.rachelmariekang.com.

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