Erin Lale's new nonfiction book American Celebration has been published by Spero Publishing. American Celebration is a guide to celebrating the holidays with friends and family of different faiths.
Erin Lale's new nonfiction book American Celebration has been published by Spero Publishing. American Celebration is a guide to celebrating the holidays with friends and family of different faiths. It is aimed at families that include at least one pagan or heathen, but also has appeal for the general reader. The book explains both how to participate in the American folkway and why American culture is that way, and may be especially interesting to those who did not grow up in the United States and would like to understand the culture.
Lale is the author of Asatru For Beginners and 17 other books, including nonfiction, science fiction, and poetry, and is the contributing editor of the multi-author Time Yarns short story anthologies. She is the Acquisitions Editor at genre novel publisher Eternal Press and Damnation Books and has been a published author since 1985. She is a regular contributor to Perihelion Science Fiction.
Some of Lale's analyses of American culture in American Celebration have a political flavor, as when she writes about the idolization of the flag. Lale has a degree in Soviet Political Analysis from UC-Santa Cruz, where she was Oakes Valedictorian, and ran for public office twice. In 2010 she ran for Nevada State Assembly on the Libertarian ticket, and in 2013 she ran in the nonpartisan four-way contest for Henderson, Nevada, City Council, in which she received over 15% of the vote. Her analyses of political issues have been published in the Las Vegas Guardian Express, and she contributed two chapters to the multi-author book How to Run for Office on a Liberty Platform.
Respected heathen leader Garman Lord reviewed American Celebration. He writes, "America really does have American folkways.
"In December of 2010, during a roundtable phone call among family members wishing each other Merry Christmas, author Erin Lale experienced an epiphany. The family she grew up in amounted to a religious potpourri including Native American, Asatru, Zen Buddhism and atheism, but no Christianity. No family member was Christian or ever had been, so why were they wishing one another a "merry Christmas?"
"After much thought, Erin decided it was because they were American, and the expression "merry Christmas" was an American folkway, something we say to each other without thinking in a certain season of the year. (Never mind the contemporary PC proclivity for substituting "happy holidays," essentially an ideological, rather than a folkish, issue.) Like most families, Erin's had a Christmas tree with presents, stockings hung by the chimney with care, Christmas dinner, caroling around the piano, all the Christmasy things that Americans do all over America except that, seemingly, nobody other than the extremely pious, ever worship Christ. Practically every way in which Americans actually keep Christmas is merely rooted in some pagan folkway antedating the birth of Jesus by hundreds or thousands of years and, without thinking about it, those are the folkways we keep.
"The same holds true for "American Celebrations" of everything from major occasions, such as the fourth of July, to myriad Hallmark holidays like Mother's and Father's Day. We do sometimes think of ourselves, with some justification, as a contrived, cultureless country, swept together in the middle of Modern history out of the tired, poor and huddled masses of the planet. To Erin, however, that's just not giving ourselves enough credit. For all that we have no state religion, which is bound to be a good thing, it could be said that, for some majority of us, America itself is a religion, with its flag waving, pledge of allegiance, relentless exceptionalism and the thousand little folk-sacraments we see and observe all around us. We've got every kind of god or demigod; Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Bogeyman under the bed, Guardian Angel, Fairy Godmother, you name it, sometimes even Jesus. We avoid black cats and Friday the Thirteenth, we won't walk under a ladder or step on a crack, we don't believe in ghosts but we're afraid of them. It doesn't matter whether we actually believe in any of these things, only that they are there in our folkloric consciousness. They are all there in what Lale calls "the American Celebration," a good name for all the American sensibilities which pull us together as a "nation," versus all the other racial, ethnic, regional, religious, political, linguistic and other differences which constantly conspire to pull all us Americans apart.
"This is a delightfully written book on a, frankly, rather unpromising subject. Lale has a wonderfully light, painless touch in talking quite frankly about issues which divide us Americans very deeply, and sometimes distress us all. In doing so, she covers a lot of ground, filling in the background lore on all our celebrational traditions. There's reams of lore cited there, some of it authentic, some obviously the stuff of urban legends. Which is which? You decide. But she's right; all these commonplace things about us are our honest-to-god folkways, our "American Celebration," which deserve to be understood and cherished among us."