I am reminded of a passage in Ismail Kadare’s book The Fall of the Stone City:
A few weeks before, the Cold War had started. This was no longer the laughing matter it had been at first (Eskimos etcetera), but nor was it as frightening as it later became (silent and as frigid as death). It was something to be worried about, like the Iron Curtain, invented by an English lord.
In order to demonstrate that it was possible to live with these fears, and even cheerfully, the number of festivals increased. Sports days were the favourite: they were cheap and needed no preparation. You gathered a few dozen time-wasters with itchy feet and all it took was a sign reading “Spring Cross-Country” for them to pelt off like lunatics. Along the road others would join in and then they would stop in some square to catch their breath and cheer, “Long live …” and just as often “Death to …”, for there were as many things that had to live as to die, and the quicker the better.