Arts & Culture Commentaries Government

Councilor Edwards on This Year’s Feast Season

A Feast From Afar

By District One City Councilor Lydia Edwards

St. Anthony’s Feast, August 2019

COVID-19 has turned the world on its side and we have been left to deal with the unimaginable: no hugging or sharing the company of those we love. This is a time when our traditions, values, and faith play a vital role in how we can recover from the worst of situations. Our reality has completely changed in the last six months and in ways that we never could’ve imagined.

Despite all of this, I have seen the best in people during these tough times. I have seen people fight for their basic human rights and risked their lives during an unprecedented epidemic. I have seen people come together and form campaigns to help frontline workers and those most in need of our care and support. Yes, despite all of this, when the world is at its worst, I have seen the best in people.

St. Lucy’s Feast, August 2019.

We must not forget our customs, heritage, traditions, and faith. The North End is a community built on these values and maintaining them are, in particular, the religious societies that enrich this neighborhood. Religious organizations are the heart and soul of the North End and summer has looked very different this year without their annual feasts and processions.

The feasts have weathered two world wars and economic instability in their 100 plus years of celebrating; however, nothing has affected the feasts quite like this pandemic. I applaud the efforts of the societies who found alternatives celebrating their patron saints in a time when we need them most. In addition to finding a safe way to celebrate, the societies came together and ran an “All Saints” campaign helping to fund purchases of PPE and food insecurity programs throughout the greater Boston area. Time and time again, these organizations prove to be a vital part of the neighborhood.

The slogan “we’re all in this together” has been used often during our time spent in quarantine. I find it fitting as we are relying on everyone to do their part to help stop the spread of COVID. Things are tough right now, but they will get better and we will celebrate again. We should acknowledge our collective efforts to help stop the spread of the virus while we are all putting life on hold. Although the North End is finding new ways to celebrate the feasts this year, it doesn’t mean we can’t be sad that we are not celebrating in usual fashion. The North End that I’ve come to know and love, who welcomed me and taught me its rich traditions, is resilient and will conquer all obstacles that come its way.

City Councilor Lydia Edwards visits Saint Agrippina’s Feast, 2018

To all the sports fans, who put on their gear at home and are watching games played in empty stadiums, thank you for promoting social distancing and making the best of a bad situation.  To all those who were going to get married this year and had to cancel or postpone due to the ongoing pandemic, thank you for putting your life on hold so we can preserve the lives of those who have fallen ill. To those preserving our customs and traditions, thank you for finding safe alternatives to our beloved rituals. To all the frontline and essential workers, thank you for continuing to put your life on the line so that others may live. Without you we would not have been able to make progress against the virus. To our service men and women across the globe, thank you for serving and protecting this country when the world has fallen ill. To our emergency responders, thank you for keeping us safe in a time when everything feels unstable.

However you celebrate this year – Buona festa! I look forward to celebrating with you all next year!