There is perhaps a final reason that I am drawn to folkways and customs of all kinds. It's captured in the word we use to describe this particular form of adherence: observance. To observe is to hold something in sustained view, to give focused attention to something beyond our own eyeballs. To observe a religious festival, then, is most simply to pay attention to something. This kind of whole-soul attention-giving is at once a basic and an utterly unnatural human capacity: prone to wander, the spirit wants to leap backward into regret and obsession or forward into fantasy and desire. To observe is to hold the soul in the now, to train our thoughts and actions on the social forms unfolding before us in time. Religious practice and its secular cousin the folkway offer us the forms to hold in our view.
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