Personal and public celebrations are important features of mythological and religious stories, from the feast of Bacchus, the god of wine, to Christ turning water into wine at the Marriage at Cana. In everyday life, marriages are exuberantly celebrated in Flemish paintings and more decorously in Victorian times. Hogarth took a cynical view of contemporary marriage in his series Marriage A-la-Mode but one of Canaletto’s finest works records the annual celebration of the marriage of Venice to the sea.
The many other excuses for a celebration include lifetime landmarks such as birthdays, graduations and other personal achievements, and community events marking saints’ days, fairs, miners’ galas, coronations and peace at the end of wars. All have been recorded in art.