Day of the Catastrophe

I was having trouble deciding what to blog -- there are so many things I could choose from recently -- so I decided to play catch up, and tell you about a cultural moment I had back in May of this year.Nakba Day, or the commemoration of the Day of the Catastrophe, happens on May 15 each year in Palestine to mark the forced exodus of Palestinians from their homeland in 1948 and ongoing.The thrilling sound of drums and bagpipes (the latter have been curiously appropriated as the national instrument, or perhaps Scotland appropriated them from Palestine) caught me by surprise as I did some shopping in town that day, and I stopped to capture the spirit in the air. Despite it being a commemorative day, the word celebratory does more to accurately describe the sense of festivity there was as rowdy children marched, not perfectly in line, but adorably playing their drums and waving their flags. Ramallah residents try hard to stay positive in the face of military occupation, to protest only peacefully, and to mark all major holidays with a parade.
The parade phenomenon is my favorite display of ecumenicalism here, because there are only a limited number of children who play in the marching bands. These bands are called "scouts" and the groups are formed of children of various religions and both genders.
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So the scouts come out to play for the holidays that all three major religious groups here celebrate. They play for the Muslim holidays, the Eastern Christian holidays, and the Latin Christian holidays. The scouts' proud parents of all religions come out for all the parade holidays - no matter the associated religion -- to see their children march and play.Since the Latin and Eastern Orthodox Christmases and Easters both fall on different days, the Christians of the city compromise: Latin Christians get to celebrate their Christmas day with a parade, and Eastern Christians get to celebrate their Easter day with a parade. That way there isn't parade overload and the city celebrates each major holiday only once a year, in a show of unity.

Despite the city taking precautions, parade overload still threatens the younger citizens of Ramallah.