In the twentieth century, celebrations of historical anniversaries abounded. There was the bicentennial of the French Revolution, the 150th anniversary of photography, Bach's 300th anniversary, and the 200th anniversary of the American Constitution, to name just a few. Every year hundreds of anniversaries still attract media attention and government investment in ever greater degrees. Deploying an astonishing array of insights, Celebrations explores the causes and consequences of this major phenomenon of our time.As Johnston shows, anniversaries fulfill a number of needs. They provide the kind of experience of regularity across a lifetime that the weekly cycle supplies in daily life. The use of anniversaries for political ends emerged during the French Revolution and expanded to promote nationalism during the nineteenth century, although there are differences in how they are used. Europeans tend to celebrate cultural heroes, while Americans tend to celebrate events. Entire nations exploit anniversaries of founding events in order to promote national identity. Commercially, there are whole industries built around commemoration, and they provide intellectuals an opportunity to take center stage.Using methods of cultural history, sociology, and religious studies, Johnston shows how the cult of anniversaries reflects postmodern concerns. It fills a void left by the disappearance of ideologies and avant-gardes. In an era when there is little consensus about styles or methods, anniversaries allow intellectuals, businesses, and governments to acknowledge and celebrate every nuance of opinion. By suggesting ways to use anniversaries more creatively, this book offers a broad range of insights.