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What is Festivity?

The definition of festivity as defined by The Free Dictionary:

fes·tiv·i·ty  (f-stv-t)

n. pl. fes·tiv·i·ties

1. A joyous feast, holiday, or celebration; a festival.
2. The pleasure, joy, and gaiety of a festival or celebration.
3. festivities The proceedings or events of a festival.
Alternately:
1. merriment characteristic of a festival, party, etc.
2. any festival or other celebration
3. (plural) festive proceedings; celebrations

I find these definitions to be limiting, but they encompass the root of the word: celebration.

To grasp the point of this blog, you’ll need to abandon the idea of a rental DJ or your Coachella scrapbook or cocktail parties as the root of festivity. Those are all ways to get festive, for sure. But festivity is more elusive and abstract than “ways to celebrate” or “throwing a party” or “holiday decorations”.


I like to think of festivity as how the human soul reacts to moments of heightened existence. Moments that aren’t ordinary. Moments we want to glorify or set apart from the rest of our daily lives. Sometimes it’s a memorial service, sometimes it’s a wedding, sometimes it’s a town’s 300 year anniversary, sometimes it’s a personal achievement that we don’t even tell anyone about. Sometimes it’s drinking a whole bottle of champagne and dancing until 8:00AM.

But it’s not exclusive to moments when you’re intoxicated, commercial holidays, or even your immediate community’s traditions. Festivity is a choice we make when we want to turn up the volume on the essence of feeling alive. It’s our joy, our gratitude, our connection to the universe.

That means something different for everyone, and it can change all the time. It could be something as simple and material as weaving colored ribbons into your braided hair, or something as epic as organizing an outdoor music festival, or gathering a group of friends for a monthly game night.

Festivity is enhancing the moment, making it special, and doing that in whatever way feels right.

 Festivity is Holi, a spring Hindu festival where people fling colored powder at one another until everyone is completely matted in vibrant hues.

☆  Festivity is wearing a big pile of costume jewelry around your neck.

☆  Festivity is a wild print mixed with another wild print.

☆  Festivity is a pure, streamlined Shinto wedding kimono.

☆  Festivity is every Rumi poem ever written (seriously).

☆  Festivity is dancing manically until the sun comes up.

☆  Festivity is keeping a living space that is a nurturing home (whether you are hotel-hopping or you bought a house) so you give yourself the best chance to start every day in a gracious, joyous mood.

☆  Festivity is photographing colorful, unexpected accents you notice in your surroundings.

☆  Festivity is an art project that doesn’t have a deadline or a purpose except to bring beauty into your life and to have fun creating something.

☆  Festivity is the beautiful, painstaking, hand-administered technique responsible for indigenous embroidery patterns the world over.

☆  Festivity is seashells in the window sill that you found on the beach.

☆  Festivity is a long, billowing skirt, a hand-dyed head scarf, or a razor-sharp tailored jacket that makes you feel like a million dollars.

☆  Festivity is singing in the shower, loudly.

☆  Festivity is a hug, a grin, a high-five, a shout-out, a from-the-heart pep talk.

  Festivity is buying a tambourine to keep in your car just in case you get stuck in traffic and want to rock out.

It is our willingness to illuminate our circumstance. 

And I have found that through fashion, music, social outreach, and taking steps towards becoming better, more open minded and patient people, we can all be ambassadors of festivity. That, and fashion/style/textiles/DIY/crafting/creating are my two obsessions in this world, and I am more than happy to share my field notes with you as I experiment with both of these themes.

Image via Confetti System.

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