What celebrations did they have at the House of Old in The Giver?
The Ceremony of Release is celebrated for the elderly at the House of the Old.
Jonas goes to the House of the Old because Asher and Fiona are there. He is spending his last volunteer hours before the Ceremony of Twelve with his friends. The House of the Old is “a serene and slow-paced place” (ch 4, pp. 28-29). Larissa, the old woman Jonas helps bathe, tells him about the Ceremony of Release celebrated for a man named Roberto.
"Well, there was the telling of his life. That is always first. Then the toast. We all raised our glasses and cheered. We chanted the anthem. He made a lovely good-bye speech. And several of us made little speeches wishing him well. (ch 4, p. 32)
Larissa explains that she is not sure what happens during the actual release. He just goes through a door, and is never seen again. Jonas does not find out until later that release means death by lethal injection. When he finds out what release actually means, he is very upset. That is when he decides to leave the community.
Lowry, Lois (1993-04-26). The Giver (Newbery Medal Book). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Kindle Edition.
The citizens celebrate the releasing of the elderly at the House of the Old in Jonas's community.
In chapter 4, Jonas visits the House of the Old, where Fiona and Asher are completing their volunteer hours before the Ceremony of Twelve takes place. Jonas joins Fiona and Asher and begins bathing an elderly woman named Larissa. While Jonas is bathing Larissa, she explains how the entire elderly home celebrated the release of Roberto. She explains to Jonas that the community members told Roberto's life story and celebrated his meaningful life by elaborating on all of his accomplishments. After the telling of Roberto's life, there was a toast, which was followed by chanting the anthem and Roberto's goodbye speech. Several citizens then made small speeches wishing Roberto the best, and he left through a special door in the Releasing Room. In the novel, releasing of the elderly is a euphemism for euthanasia.