When I was in university, a friend of mine invited me to her Burns' Day celebration one year. I was a little leary about accepting the invitation. For one thing, I had tried Haggis once and it was not my cup and tea. Some people may love it and that's fine, but for me, once is enough. A second thing that concerned me was that my friend was not in the least bit Scottish. My friend's parents had emigrated from China just before she was born. A third thing that concerned me was that my friend was a strict vegan. I was not. So I was not sure what I would be eating that night. However, I was a poor student and was not really able to turn down a free meal at that time. And I had been taught it was rude to turn down an invitation to a friend.
I was quite surprised when I got to my friend's house. For the meat eaters that were there, we were served a chicken cordon bleu dinner. For the vegans, a lovely tofu meal was served. We all had a wonderful meal enjoying our "haggis" and no sheep's intestine tainted our plates that night. It didn't matter that that night out of the 8 attendees at the party, I was the only one with some Scottish heritage. On that night, we were all Scottish.
Robbie Burns night is like that. Anybody is welcome to celebrate. It does not matter whether you are Scottish or not. St. Patrick's Day is like that too. On March 17th, everyone is supposedly Irish, whether their ancestors have kissed the Blarney stone or not.
I think that is the nice things about holidays. They don't have to be exclusive. I don't have problems with anyone finding joy at Easter and Christmas. I might enjoy those holidays for their religious meanings. Others might find it a time for families or a time for a get together. But still everyone feels the joy during that time of year and that is the main thing.
I used to live in a high rise in a very multicultural neighbourhood in Toronto. It was not unusual to hear people speaking different languages between floors in the elevators. It was not unusual to see people dressed in various religious garb. Yet we all lived and worked together. I remember one woman who I saw often on the elevator. She was a black woman from sub Saharan Africa. She was always dressed in a black hijab. Occasionally we would be in our ministerial collars after having done a funeral or wedding. In the five years or so that she lived in the building each Christmas she would wish us a Merry Christmas. Every Eid we would wish her a Happy Eid. It was such a moment of grace. Both of us recognized the important religious holidays that the other celebrated. And we wished each other well. We could recognize each other's joy and celebrate it.
I think this is what people need to do. We need to take the time to celebrate each other's joys, even if they are not are joys. We need to recognize that when we feel good, others feel good. When we do this, someone else seems less of a stranger. Fear lessens. We begin to see the good in the other. And maybe, we become more open ourselves. So for those enjoying Haggis tonight, whether you are Scottish or not, enjoy. Blessings