What was once a Star Wars joke is a fully armed and operational merchandising event. Today is Life Day, which means that from its theme parks to its stores, Disney will find a way to sell you as many Wookiee-affiliated pieces of merchandise as possible: especially those pale blue orbs. But what were they even for? Have we forgotten what Life Day was about in the first place?
First established in the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special—hence its decades as a derogatory in-joke, a reminder of one of the most routinely clowned-upon pieces of Star Wars media ever made—Life Day is pitched as a Wookiee hybrid of Thanksgiving and Christmas. There’s a tree, there’s family gatherings, there’s shiny decorations, lots of waffling about love and harmony. There’s also, appropriately, a religious origin that has increasingly been pushed aside in favor of a non-secular, exploitably merchandisable commercial event. Life Day Funko Pop, anyone?
The Life Day Orb is arguably the most fundamentally religious aspect of Life Day in Wookiee culture. The holiday is one of celebration, like our own Christmas and Thanksgivings, but it’s primarily one of remembrance—a time to reflect on those who have already passed on as much as it is celebrating the living in the here and now. In both the Expanded Universe and Disney’s current canon, the Life Day Orb is meant to reflect a starscape that Wookiees believe to be the afterlife, part of a belief system that involves the spirits of departed life walking on into the stars themselves. Aside from adorning the wroshyr trees of Kashyyyk during festivities, Life Orbs are the center of family gatherings, both as decoration and the crux of prayer rituals by Wookiee families, a silent pause to remember lost love ones.
It’s perhaps fitting then that the Orb is the easy window to a world of Life Day products. It’s a bauble, it’s a mug, it’s a light-up globe. It’s adorned on t-shirts, fashioned on plush toys, and provides photo opportunities at Disney’s Star Wars land, Galaxy’s Edge. Perhaps even more so than the red traditional robes of Life Day (now available as loungewear!), the Life Day Orb is the symbol of the holiday as a corporate product. And if we’re going to make Life Day as much of a holiday as Christmas, there’s probably nothing better than taking one of its most spiritual aspects and having the engines of capitalism turn it into a filed down trinket. Happy Life Day!
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