This decade has been appropriately christened a Decade of Centenaries. However, we must bear in mind that one person's celebration of a centenary can be another person's humiliation. One community's celebration can be another community's horror story. What one community sees as a good wine, the other sees as a deadly poison.
Nonetheless, one person's commemoration can be another person's commemoration as well. Both people can participate in and appreciate - albeit differently - the historic event that is intrinsic to the commemoration.
And so the establishment of Northern Ireland, which took place in 1921, can be simultaneously commemorated next year by two communities looking at it from opposing political points of view.
The fact is that there were winners and losers in the creation of this state. Therefore the idea that, in a divided society such as ours, both sides can genuinely celebrate something that is, by its very nature, the cause of its internal division is absurd.
However, although they both cannot celebrate that formative event, they can at the same time reflect upon it and learn from it in a peaceful and respectful fashion.
As a society, for us to do so in a structured and non-triumphant fashion would be a sure sign of reaching a high degree of maturity in our politics.
Other contentious historical events, such as the Home Rule Bill of 1914, the 1916 Easter Rising and the 1918 general election have been dealt with in a respectful and dignified way.
The Irish Government wisely took the initiative to structure these events to ensure that they were under the state's care and control and were given serious reflection. While they have been primarily celebrated south of the border, they have also been commemorated north of the border.
For example, in the Assembly at Stormont in January 2019 Speaker Robin Newton and the Ceann Comhairle Sean O'Fearghail organised a joint public event in the Senate chamber on the 100th anniversary of the formation of Dail Eireann.
A lecture was given by that encyclopaedic Irish historian Dr Eamon Phoenix. It was attended by an audience of politicians, people and students. It was a powerful examination of our history and its continuing impact on our contemporary society.
There was no celebration, no triumphalism, just an honest attempt at remembering a very significant event in a civilised fashion.
It may have been a politically awkward event for the Speaker, who is after all a DUP MLA, but he probably recognised that his attendance and sponsorship of the public lecture was an important contribution towards a greater understanding of a formative event in our parliamentary history on this island.
As a unionist he undoubtedly did not celebrate Dail Eireann's formation in 1919, but he commemorated it with his characteristic sense of public duty and personal good humour.
Recently East Belfast DUP MP Gavin Robinson, in a thoughtful statement about the upcoming centenary of Northern Ireland, stated: "For me and many others it will be a year of celebration. But I recognise that, for others, they may wish to appropriately reflect on events of the past century in their own way."
This was a sensible and conciliatory approach by a leading DUP figure to the issue of whether or not to celebrate such a contentious event by those who are not unionist.
Ulster Unionist leader Steve Aiken has also acknowledged the problem with non-unionists celebrating the foundation of the state. He said: "We fully understand that, for some people, the centenary of Northern Ireland will not be a cause for celebration and that is their right."
However, he went on to remind us all: "We have shown respect for events, which we too wish had happened differently or not at all, including the Easter Rising."
This is an important reminder - not least that the Queen herself visited Dublin in 2011 and laid a wreath at the memorial of those who died in the Irish War of Independence.
This unprecedented act was a powerful gesture of respect and reconciliation by the Queen. It was very much appreciated at the time by the Irish President Mary McAleese and a wide section of the Irish public.
It should also be remembered that in February 2016 First Minister Arlene Foster travelled to Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin and took part in an open discussion on the Easter Rising.
The event was not an official commemoration of the rebellion, but was "designed to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising by exploring it historically".
It was in keeping with the view that you do not have to approve of an historical event in order to set a tone of respect and tolerance.
This is, surely, the hallmark of a maturing democracy.