Hope is the underlying theme this Memorial Day weekend, with the opening of the movie Tomorrowland, and the celebrations of Shavuot and Pentecost. With the colors of the flags flying high, parades in the streets, and Christians and Jews celebrating their faith, and families watching Tomorrowland a movie about the promise of the future, it will be hard not to feel hopeful this weekend.
Shavuot the Jewish holiday celebrates the gift of the Torah to the people of Israel. Known as the Festival of Weeks, because it is held seven weeks after the second night of Passover and marks the end of the Counting of the Omer. The Torah mandates the day and weeks be counted in anticipation and hope of the gift of the Torah. It is celebrated exactly 50 days after passover. Here in America it is a two-day celebration, while in Israel it is celebrated for only one day. Many traditions include staying up all night and reading the Torah, lighting holiday candles, and not working. Some Jewish homes decorate with flowers. Passover marks the freeing of the people of Israel from enslavement from the Pharaoh in Egypt, and Shavuot marks the beginning of the people of Israel becoming a nation that served God when they received the gift of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Imagine the hope that it must have brought to the people of Israel.
The Christian holiday of Pentecost celebrates the day that the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus Christ’s followers after his ascension. Taken from the Book of Acts in the New Testament,the story of the sound of wind filling the room and tongues of fire descending upon each of his followers, filling them with the Holy Spirit is the inspiration behind the holiday. The Holy Spirit imparted on them the ability to understand and speak all languages. The Holiday marks the “birth” of the Church, as the Apostle Peter stood up and spoke his first sermon. Some Christians such as the Pentecostals, believe that the first Pentecost gave all followers of Jesus the ability to speak in tongues, prophesies, and to heal, most Christian believe the gift of Pentecost is a better earthly life lived through the acceptance of Jesus Christ as their savior. Christians celebrate by reading from the Book of Acts, and some wear red or white to mark the holiday.
Both Pentecost, and Shavuot, being celebrated on Memorial Day brings hope to those of faith this weekend, and for those who do not celebrate either holiday they can get their dose of hope by watching the movie Tomorrowland. Tomorrowland is directed by Brad Bird (Iron Man, The Incredibles) the movie is a family friendly sci-fi adventure starring George Clooney and Britt Robertson. The film is inspired by the area in the Magic Kingdom that goes by the same name. Britt Robertson’s character travels to an alternate universe where she must unlock the mysteries of the amazing land to save the world. Tomorrowland’s futuristic look takes from the imagination and the vision Walt Disney had of the future, and his idea that humans and their imagination, intelligence, and spirit can create a better world. Tomorrowland gives viewers an optimistic view of the future, the opposite of what many sci-fi films portray lately. The film has received mix reviews, but with little family friendly movies available this weekend it should do well.
In a world full of violence, corruption, and division, a Memorial Day weekend full of celebrations like Pentecost and Shavuot, and movies that give people feelings of hope for the future like Tomorrowland, can only makes the parades and backyard gatherings even more enjoyable. Americans this weekend will remember the brave men and woman who served this nation and protected those freedom that make these religious celebrations possible, and given creative people like Walt Disney the ability to express himself, there is no better holiday weekend for all these things to coincide.
Opinion by Jessica Hamel
Fox 59: Movie Reviews: Tomorrowland
RNS: The ‘Splainer:’Gifts’ of Pentecost and Shavuot
Huffington Post: Shavuot 2015: Celebrating the Giving of the Torah
Photo Courtesy of arbyreed’s Flickr page- Creative Commons Licence