#92 February 1996
Section 126.96.36.199.092.of the Artemis Data Book
by Peter Kokh
While "new traditions" (as oxymoronic as it sounds) are being made all the time, there is little doubt that those that command our observance most deeply are those which are oldest, rooted in our collective gitgo times. So it is with Holidays: Christmas, Easter, New Years go back millennia (two at least). Thanksgiving goes back nearly four centuries. The 4th of July will be 220 years old next time around.
We can expect that as the lunar frontier becomes fully established with the coming of age of the first native born generation of Lunans, the holidays and festivals they will most cherish will include those observed by those establishing the first beachhead.
The Apollo 11 landing (July 20th) is sure to be observed, as is the "infamous" day of retreat, the liftoff of the Apollo 17 crew (December 10th). But neither of these "trivia" dates will rival the enthused celebration of the "Day of the Return" when humans come back to the moon intent on setting up an open-ended "permanent" presence leading to genuine settlement.
The first crew may only set up camp and then return to Earth, to be followed by the first crew intent on staying a full day-night cycle (the lunar "sunth") or more. So closely connected with the observance of the Day of the Return will be the celebration of that first successful "overnighting" and the greeting of that first "sunrise" -- "First Night's End."
Finally, "Ever Since Day" will mark commencement of uninterrupted human presence on the moon. If I were to put a friendly wager on which of these will be the most honored in Lunan settlement tradition, it would be on "First Night's End." There will be a special flavor to this holiday, the shared mutual congratulations at having survived this "initiation" imposed by the moon itself. And for all non-native born Lunans, there will be a special personal resonance with memories of their very own "First Night" and "First Night's End."
Other history-rooted anniversaries may mark the birth of the first native born Lunan. And later, the first native born grandchild (i.e., second generation, whose health will be the final test of whether or not humans can stay on the moon indefinitely) [See MMM #47 JUL '91, p.5 "Native Born"]
Not all Lunan Holidays and festivities will take root in such historic occurrences. Some are sure to be bound up with the moon's natural rhythms, much as a growing minority of us terrestrials observe the equinoxes and solstices. Local sunset and local sunrise will be big deals, something to mark with a special meal or wine or friends -- simply because they occur on a 28+ day cycle, not a 24 hour one.
If a particularly appropriate Lunan Calendar is adopted [see MMM #7 JUL '87, "Moon Calendar"], with "sunths" of 28.5 (24 hr.) days instead of 30.5 day calendar months, with the discrepancy with Earth reckoning made up with occasional "leap" ("intercalary") "sunths" or weeks, Lunar New Years may only approximate the fall of New Years on Earth.
In such a case, the observance of religious feasts and holy days may also vary with that on Earth, without spiritual harm to those who honor them. This will be much to the chagrin and resistance of religious fundamentalists (those who give major importance to the minor, and minor importance to what really matters, and call every one else heretic and infidel.)
Solar Eclipses on the moon are the flip side of Lunar Eclipses on Earth. They will be much more of an experience for Lunan pioneers and settlers than any eclipse on Earth (even total Solar). They will last several hours locally, and possibly may occasion the morning or afternoon "off" (work or school) as the case may be. And it will be the most favorable time for looking for city lights on Earth's nighttime face.
In time, other "political" milestones will come to be honored in settlement tradition -- the day when home rule is won, or independence declared, for example.
Historic and festive holidays will not be the only early-rooted traditions. Pioneering songs and ballads, even candidate settlement anthems, are sure to be written, sung, performed, and loved.
There may arise too special festive foods with historic significance. We have pretzels and crossover buns associated with Lent, unleavened bread associated with Passover. Eggnog, Christmas cookies, Easter Eggs, and Pumpkin Pie are among many foods especially popular at specific festive times. On the moon, many long-loved foods and recipe delights will not be available early on. Special early frontier substitute food and menu items, beverages too, even if in time the need to make such substitutions eases, may be prepared and consumed with relish on commemorative occasions. Associated with such holiday tradition meals may be time-revered toasts, blessings, and mutual greetings.
Certain plants are associated with various observances on Earth; poinsettias and mistletoe with Christmas, for example. And plants grown successfully in the early outpost days may come to be associated with various Lunan observances in like fashion.
The first humans to return to the moon may think that all they are doing is erecting, deploying, setting up, demonstrating, testing, etc. But even the little incidental things they do may in time take on special meaning and color not at all obvious at first, to become ritually repeated. This will all occur sometimes spontaneously, other times with alertness, if not deliberateness, as a part of fulfilling the very human need to impose on nature's own rhythms, a festive and commemorative cultural rhythm of our own. Such cultural rhythms are a major element of the social glue that binds generations together. In this way they will bind future Lunan generations, much as similar traditions have always served in terrestrial communities throughout the globe, and throughout historic and pre-historic times.
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