Love, remembrance, respect for family
Since time immemorial, humans have experienced feelings of warm attachment not only to parents, siblings and close family, but also to the generations of family members who preceded us. The love and respect we hold for both the living and the departed are the basis of strong families and caring communities, and ultimately, they are what bind us as a society.
Commemoration of ancestors is practiced worldwide
Around the world and across the centuries, numerous cultures have formed traditions to remember and honour family ancestors. In the present day, such traditions flourish in most Asian countries, some of which set aside a day each year to venerate their forebears. In China, they call it Qingming festival. On or near April 15, the world’s most populous nation pauses to observe a status holiday, when young and old show respect by tidying and decorating their ancestors’ tombs. This tradition has been in practice for 2,500 years!
In North American, participation in traditional ancestor celebrations is low
Here in North America, many First Nations people actively nurture age-old celebrations that pay tribute to their ancestors. However, citizens of European heritage, for the most part, do not. Quite remarkably, more than 500 years after the first European settlers arrived on the continent, a formal day of ancestor celebration has not found its way onto our calendar.
To be sure, on an individual family basis, some European North Americans celebrate their ancestors in private, on days meaningful to them. Others have adopted the practice of commemorating their ancestors on Memorial Day (in the U.S.) or Remembrance Day (in Canada). Both are statutory holidays honouring the men and women who died serving in the military. It’s easy to see why some folks would choose to pay tribute to their ancestors on these special days.
Establishing a new Ancestors Day tradition
So, clearly, the inclination to remember and memorialize one’s ancestors exists in European North American culture. In cemeteries across Canada and the United States, generations of family members are buried side by side. This attests to the closeness of the families and the continuity in their communities.
In our view, the reason a special day of celebration for our ancestors has not emerged in the culture is that nobody has taken the initiative to put the idea forward and advocate for it – in the social media, the traditional media and government.
We’re a small group of friends and neighbours who live or grew up in the small town of Rougemont, Quebec. Love, remembrance and respect for the generations of family that preceded us comes naturally to the people of our close-knit community.
After searching for a North American tradition to incorporate into our lives and realizing none existed, we decided to step up and start one.
Ancestors Day 2015 will be celebrated on Sunday, September 12.
We invite everyone to mark the date on their calendars. Please join us in making this day a special time for remembering and honouring our ancestors. We encourage everyone to show their respect in their own unique way.