So we’re a few days away from the winter solstice, also known as Yule… which comes a few days before the Christian/Secular holiday of Christmas. What’s that? I called Christmas secular?? Well, actually, it is a secular holiday, AND a religious holiday. An important one at that. Before people get all up in arms about it, there’s nothing wrong with a religious holiday – especially one as widely celebrated as Christmas – being a secular holiday as well. Granted, 75% of celebrants are most likely Christians, other people who don’t identify as Christian will celebrate it too. And what’s more? I know ATHEISTS who celebrate it! Oh my Gosh! Really? Yep!
All over the world people celebrate a winter holiday, typically in the month of December (I say typically because from what I learned, Chanukah moves around the calendar a bit, and I guess last year it was in November. Honestly, I don’t know a lot about Chanukah, so maybe I should ask my sister’s hubby’s family about it, since they’re Jewish and can probably explain it nicely for me so I know what it is! Anyway! So people all around the world celebrate a holiday in the winter months to mark the return of the sun. With the Winter Solstice falling on or around the 22nd of December (in the northern hemisphere I should say), it is the longest night of the year, and for our ancestors, it seemed like the sun would never return. Of course we know better, but back then things were a little different.
Imagine if you will, hundreds of years ago, before the industrial revolution, before electricity, hell, before we “discovered” the Americas, our ancestors lived in a time of hardship. We had to work the fields, tend to farms, tend to families and hope that we survive the winter. Our herds were culled back in October for Samhain, and we’ve now reached a time where it is cold and dark. The nights are long, and sometimes it was hard to believe that the sun god would ever return to lighten our days and warm the lands. Then we reach that point… where the night is the longest it’s ever been during the year, the winter solstice, and during those few days where the night is longest, the Goddess of the land begins to labor to bring forth the reborn Sun Child. After a few days, our ancestors would notice that the sun was up a little more each day and would celebrate the reborn sun. It would be a time of feasting, celebrating and gift giving. Eventually, this would become the basis for our modern day Christmas celebrations.
Modern day Christmas is a blend of traditions and practices from all over the world, from different time frames, different cultures, and different beliefs that would somehow blend together in a beautiful harmony and give rise to some of the most classic icons of Christmas. Christmas itself is the celebration of Christ’s Mass, and while we now know that Jesus was very likely born in the spring time, we celebrate his birth in December because he is the Son/Sun of God. The Child of Light, who brings peace and goodwill to all mankind. It fits that the Christian savior would have his birth celebration at this time, his mythos blends in to the season in a beautiful way.
Something many people know about me, is that I love Christmas, I love the music, the lights, the food, so many different things. I tend to get overly emotional about the music especially, Christmas music reduces me to tears every time. Particularly “Happy X-Mas/War is Over” by John Lennon and “O Holy Night”, though I particularly love Michael Crawford’s rendition of that song. I love watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and the scene where Linus recites the Christmas story from the Bible, makes me cry, and my heart is so full. There’s something about children telling that story that just moves me. I’m not a Christian, but I can find joy and peace in the message of their Christ. When I was a child, Christmas was magical, and it seemed like everyone really took the message of peace and goodwill to all mankind to heart, and even the biggest jerks would be kind and generous even for a few days. I used to give out Christmas cards every year, and would personalize the messages and even the envelopes. One year in high school I gave a card to a boy who was well… he was an ass to me on a regular basis, but the look on his face as I gave him this beautiful card, with a message of kindness and a doodled envelope was something that is still etched in my memory. He looked at me with confusion and said “But I’m not nice to you. I don’t like you. Why would you give me a card?” And I smiled at him and said “You’re my friend Erika’s friend, and it’s Christmas! Why wouldn’t I give you a card? Happy Christmas!” and off I went to class. He was nicer to me after that, but we were never friends, and that is okay.
Something that bothers me every year is the “battle for Christmas” that seems to be ever more prevalent each year. Christians claiming that pagans “stole” their holiday, pagans arguing back that no it was the Christians who “stole” their holiday… and then everyone else who is like who the hell cares? I don’t understand what the big deal is. Why can we not all just get along and wish each other joy and happiness (not just at Christmas, but every day of the year) and stop fighting. We’re fighting over a greeting for heaven’s sake. Merry Christmas, Happy Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Chanukah, Blessed Solstice, Happy Kwanzaa… whatever the holiday greeting… it’s turning into this big huge deal that is quite honestly, stupid. I mean it. Arguing over how you greet people is STUPID. There are far greater and more pressing issues going on in the world and you’re going to be all butt hurt over the fact that someone said “Happy Holidays” vs “Merry Christmas”? You know, Christmas ISN’T the only holiday in the month… aside from other winter celebrations, we also happen to have the secular New Year’s celebration at the end of the month. Perhaps your greeter is wishing you not only a happy Christmas, but a wonderful new year as well. Didn’t think of that, did you? Ha! Really people, get over yourselves and stop puffing up in false pride. I believe Jesus warns against that you know. Again, not Christian, but I am quite familiar with the Bible, and I think Jesus had a lot of good things to say and teach. I wish more of his followers would, well, follow in his example. Unfortunately, it is something I don’t ever see happening. Though, I will admit, it’s not just the Christians, it’s everyone. It doesn’t matter the religion, there are assholes everywhere. *sighs* I wish it was different. I wish that mankind was more gentle with one another, more caring, less selfish, less greedy. I wish were more hopeful, kind, selfless, generous. Maybe someday. We’ll see.
Anyway, this is it for now, I hope to write more later, but it’s going to be a busy week as we gear up for both my pagan Yule celebration and the family’s Christmas celebrations (which I LOVE). Any time where there is joy and family and food, I am up for it.
In the meantime, Peace, Joy, Harmony, Blessings and Goodwill to you all and have a Blessed Christmahanakwanzisolstica!! LOL!