There is no human society without celebrations, holidays and feasts. “The feast is part of man’s inescapable rhythm of work and rest,” observes Fr. Schmemann. But beyond the need to rest from work, the development of celebrations in human culture has much deeper root in man’s need to find joy and meaning in work and in life. “It is precisely here, in man’s absolutely irrepressible need, not just for rest, but for joy, for meaning that we find the true source of celebration and its tenacity in human society.” Feasts, in every culture, have become the repository and expression of a society’s goals, ambitions and worldview. As Fr. Schmemann writes, “tell me what you celebrate, and 1 will tell you who you are …”
Christianity is also best understood through its celebrations rather than through abstract dogmatic and theological formulas. Orthodox Christianity in particular has from its earliest days expressed its faith, its understanding of the world and its approach to life through a network of feasts that embrace the entire year. “Without exaggeration we can say that the believer lives from feast to feast, and that for him these feasts sanctify ail time through the coming and going of each season.”
In this volume, Fr. Schmemann examines first the phenomenon of celebration and then its expression in the Orthodox Christian church year, focusing especially on the Christmas and Easter cycles. His reflections on feasts devoted to Mary, the Mother of God, will be included in volume 3 of Celebration of Faith.