As of late, my facebook page has been plagued with the message: “I will not accept your well wishes of Happy Holidays because I want to say Merry Christmas”. Then a beautiful image was posted on a friend’s page:
I’m not a god-worshiper, but the season is fun, so we dabble in the buffet line of various traditions: from the pagan origins of winter celebration right up to the coca-cola commercialism and a lot of what’s in between. We will continue to teach Kidlet about a wide variety of spiritual practices, and if we’ve done our job right, he’ll choose what is right for him regardless of our personal beliefs. These are some of the ideas we blend together for the holiday season:
According to many, the celebration of Christmas is super-imposed upon the winter solstice or the Roman Saturnalia festival. Other, more scholarly articles date the conception of Jesus as the same date as the crucifixion (mid-March to early April) thus coming up with the two dates once disputed: December 25th and January 6th. The latter now referred to as epiphany, and the combination the 12 days of Christmas (McGowan). Many people in our North American society will tell you the true focus of the season is the Christian god and Christ/Jesus. While I don’t share in these beliefs, I do love many of the Christmas carols and other add-ons of this celebration.
Santa Claus/St. Nick/Father Christmas
Coca-cola hit pay-dirt when it created what most people now think of when they hear “Santa Claus”. But the origins of this character are as vast as any other: Nisse, Sinterklaas, Kris Kringle… whatever you want to call him, children are delighted with this fairy-tale. There is nothing that quite compares to the magic of unconditional generosity represented by this jolly old man.
A Jewish festival lasting 8 nights. Light a menorah, exchange Hanukkah presents, enjoy meals together. While most of us don’t actively participate in Hanukkah, many people use the entire winter/holiday season as a good excuse to get together, enjoy each other’s company and, just as often as not, exchange small gifts of friendship.
I personally consider this the original winter celebration. The longest night of the year has existed since the beginning of the planet. I love that after December 21st or 22nd, the days will start getting longer and more light and life is on its way. I love Yule Logs, Yule-Tree (aka: Christmas Tree), mistletoe, lights, etc. To me, it’s just not the season without them.
Frenaya, John (poster). Image: Seasonal Greetings (2011-12-19) Retrieved 2011-12-21 from: https://www.facebook.com/groups/198198690237992/?ref=notif¬if_t=group_activity#!/photo.php?fbid=10150473578423749&set=a.43397523748.53178.583638748&type=1&theater
McGowan, Andrew (n.d.) “How December 25th Became Christmas”. Retrieved 2011-12-20 from: http://www.bib-arch.org/e-features/christmas.asp