‘Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to that arrogant oligarchy who merely happen to be walking around.’ G.K.Chesterton
Establishing a tradition during your lifetime, one that is likely to outlast you, is a particularly interesting way of creating legacy.
I’m thinking about this of course because today is April Fools’ Day, a day when we are traditionally encouraged to be light-hearted and play pranks on others.
The origins of April Fools’ day
The origins of April Fools’ day are uncertain. Some see it as a celebration related to the turn of the seasons, while others believe it stems from the adoption of a new calendar.
Joseph Boskin, a professor of history at Boston University, suggested that the practice began during the reign of Constantine, when a group of court jesters and fools told the Roman emperor that they could do a better job of running the empire. Constantine, amused, allowed a jester named Kugel to be king for one day. Kugel passed an edict calling for absurdity on that day, and the custom became an annual event.
This explanation was brought to the public’s attention in an Associated Press article printed by many newspapers in 1983. There was only one catch: Boskin made the whole thing up. It took a couple of weeks for the AP to realize that they’d been victims of an April Fools’ joke themselves.
Precedents of creating legacy through traditions
Reading about Joseph Boskin’s prank got me thinking about how some of our traditions are in fact associated with particular people. Valentine’s Day, for example, has become part of the legacy of St. Valentine’s and celebrates romance. In Romania, the country where I come from, a few weeks before Christmas there is the celebration associated with the legacy of St. Nicholas and his generosity. The celebration consists of children getting sweets in their shoes (but only if they’ve been good; otherwise, they get sticks). Christmas and Easter are nowadays associated with the legacy of Jesus Christ. And of course, all the name days are part of the legacy of particular saints – real of imaginary.
What would your tradition be?
Nowadays, when there are so many savvy people in the ways of marketing, it should be particularly feasible to set up a particular tradition as a way of creating legacy. Which tradition would you like to establish during your lifetime? If there was a feast you could associate with your name, what would that feast be about? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section.
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