Posts Tagged ‘christmas’

The Dark Days Of Christmas

2015/11/29

The annual frenzy of materialistic, aspiritual, anti-social behavior has begun. The celebration of the days getting shorter and colder is in full swing, having kicked off for certain on Black Friday. Worse than the Black Death, this affliction destroys community, friendship, and self-esteem. We are being inundated with advertising, reminded of deadlines, overwhelmed with gaily lit shopping centers, and beaten to the ground by sales, sales, sales.

Darkness has driven back the light until it is dark when you go to work, and it is dark when you get off of work. Winter is lying across the land, as life retreats before the cold and dark. Yet we party and celebrate, buying and buying, lest we be late. Sleepovers at favorite stores, special events day after day, our schedules are packed with marketing opportunities.  It is the Christmas Shopping Season, when rational thought is discarded and greed controls thinking.

 

Puritan Pilgrims Day

2010/11/25

Today marks the arrival in North America of a group of intolerant religious fanatics, who fled Europe because they believed that the society there was becoming too permissive.   These fanatics would have starved and frozen to death had it not been for the kindness and generosity of the local heathens.

This holiday is the result of the efforts of a single woman, who organized a campaign to convince President Lincoln to declare a ‘day of thanks’ for the landing of the Pilgrims at Plymouth Rock.  This holiday has nothing to do with celebrating the bountiful harvests the land has yielded, coming long after all harvests are in.  Today, it is used as the kickoff for the Christmas Shopping Season, as well as being clothed in sentiment for home and family.

Holidays, or sabbats as they were called by many in Europe in ancient times, used to mark the turning of the Wheel of the Year.  They were tied to the astronomical calender, falling on the solstices and equinoxes, and the days halfway between.  These sabbats represented the periods of the year associated with renewal, growth, and harvesting, as well as worship of the ancestors.  Their meanings were timeless, beyond everyday life, immutable.

Thanksgiving falls during a time which was thought by many to be a dormant time, a period when conservation of resources was critical.  Winter is just beginning, and one’s stocks of food and fuel had to last for months.  Our genetic heritage is telling us to keep our activities to a minimum, to stay home, to endure the darkness.  We are goaded into action by advertising sponsored by those who want us to spend our money, even if we have none to spare.

Thanksgiving is a totally artificial holiday, having no connection with Nature and the world around us.  Its meaning is being lost in a blitz of advertising and promotions.  More and more, it is merely a celebration of consumption, of spending which keeps the rich getting richer.  Ignore the countdown which starts now, find another way to celebrate the harvest, save your money for more important things.

Why isn’t Christmas on the solstice?

2009/12/20

Some people are aware that Christmas is the de-secularized version of the Yule celebration of ancient times, which is a celebration of the Winter Solstice.  But the Winter Solstice happens anywhere between the 20th and the 23rd of December, and Christmas is on the 25th.  Why isn’t Christmas celebrated on the solstice?

In ancient times, when the Yule was THE celebration of the whole year in terms of scope and duration, people did not take things for granted, because that was tempting the gods to do their worst.  So, every year, the shadow cast by a stone was measured, during the days close to the solstice.  Every day, the shadow would be longer, until one day, there was no difference.  Was this the solstice?  Or was it just a taunt from one of the gods?  The next day, the shadow might be the same again.  Finally, the shadow would change, growing a tiny bit shorter.  Only then did the celebration begin, only then did people feel relief.

December 25 is the first day of every year that on can be sure to see the shadow cast by the Sun at noon get shorter.  December 25 was the first day that people could be sure that the Sun was going to return to the Northern sky, bringing warmth and life back to the world.  Even though Winter was just beginning, it was a time of merriment and feasting, because Summer would come again.  The Yule Tide celebration began with a vigil, held overnight from sunset to sunrise, to attend the Sun in its rebirth, after its journey through the land of the Dead.  Revitalized, renewed, it began the new year.

The celebration of the Yule was long because travel was difficult, and there was little else to do.  People would allow their hearth to go cold, take their animals, and travel to another dwelling, where they would spend days sharing in the abundance brought by the slaughter of an animal.  After a time, they might travel to another dwelling, and again feast.  Then, they would turn for home, to relight their own hearth, and prepare for the slaughter of one of their own animals.  Thus, the celebration of the Yule often extended into February, as the days grew steadily longer, even though Winter’s grip seemed unbreakable.

The Christian church encountered the Yule when it moved out of the Mediterranean area into the lands to the north.  Both the Byzantine and the Rome branches absorbed the pagan Yule Tide holiday into their calendar, testimony to the widespread observance of this ancient tradition.  Because it was an affront to the leaders of the Christian religion that people would celebrate the Yule and not celebrate Easter,  it was decided to bring the Yule into the Christian religion, by calling it the birthday of Jesus Christ.  Just as was the Sun reborn every year, the pagans could celebrate the birth of the Christian savior at the same time.

This is why Christmas isn’t on the Solstice, even though it is descended from a celebration of the Solstice.

You can keep Christmas, I’ll celebrate the Yule!

2008/12/02

Many folks don’t realize this, but Christmas is a distorted echo of an ancient pagan, or witchcraft, celebration of the Winter Solstice.  The Yule, or YuleTide, was begun on or about December 25th, which is the first day that it is always possible, no matter which day the solstice falls upon, to measure the shortening of a shadow cast at noon.  The celebration lasted weeks, or even months, as the primitive people of Western Europe gathered together to face their greatest enemy, the winter.  The evergreen tree was a symbol of Life carrying on through the Death of winter.  Candles were symbols of the Sun, which made life possible.

In a time when nothing was taken for granted, and gods peopled the heavens and earth, the idea that the Sun could just keep going South was not uncommon.  To believe that the world could end up in eternal night gave great cause for celebration when it was determined that the Sun was coming back.  Because people had lots of spare time during the months of Autumn, they could make handycrafts, which they shared with each other when they gathered for YuleTide.  An animal would be slaughtered, the thinning of the stock to ensure that some survived the winter, and a feast would be held.

Thus, the traditions of the Yule have been passed down, but the celebration has been distorted by Greed.  In order to get people out shopping, buying the things that they can no longer make, decorations go up early, special occasions are held, and people are encouraged to spend money on their loved ones.  A countdown to the day is held, and the anticipation builds, aided by commercials.  When the day finally arrives, it is a let down.  Soon, people are unhappy with the whole thing, and decide to take down the festive lights.

Killing a tree every year was never part of the Yule celebration, only decorating one outdoors.  For one thing, there was no room in the huts that families shared for a tree, and the idea of killing an evergreen at that time of year was like heresy.  Gift giving was not a given, (ha ha) but no one was expecting anything.  An article that someone has worked on for hours has that persons energy in it, and it has power emotionally.  Simply handing out gifts would have diminished the impact that gifts had, I believe.

because the celebration of the Yule was so deeply ingrained in the native population of Western Europe, the Christian church gave up trying to stop the celebration, and incorporated it into the Christian calander.  Because the populous believed that the Sun was reborn at the solstice, the church held that the Son was born at that time.  (This in spite of it being generally believed by scholars at the time that Christ was born during the Spring or Summer.)  The emphasis was placed on the religious meaning of the Christian celebration, and the Yule was not mentioned.

To me, Christmas has come to represent the worst of American culture, with Greed being the major offender, followed by Materialism.  People have been lead to believe that the celebration goes on before the fact, not after, so that they will buy more.  I embrace the Yule, because it does not have the materialistic trappings, and it spans the time when it is first noticeable that the days are getting longer.  That is the promise of another Spring, and Life returning.  That, to me, is the Reason For The Season.

I’m so confused!

2008/11/23

Here in the United States, we use a celebration of Death to kick of the celebration of Life.  What am I talking about?  Thanksgiving and the Christmas Shopping Season.  Although Thanksgiving is dedicated to the Pilgrams landing at Plymouth Rock, it is really a harvest celebration, just a little late in the year.  (I for one never believed that people ate outside at Thanksgiving ever! Especially in Massachuesetts.)  The roast beast, the trimmings, the goodies, the pies, the whole production is a celebration of the bounty of the land, and the sacrifice made so that Life can go on.  Everything on the table will be dead, and that is what the celebration is all about.  We give thanks to that which has died so that we can continue.

Unless you live in some place without electricity, you will probably notice that the sky glows at night a lot more than usual in the days after Thanksgiving.  Some people already are burning their Christmas, or Yule, lights, and the day after Thanksgiving in the ‘official’ kick off of the Christmas Shopping Season.  The Yule Tide was a celebration of Life, of re-birth, of renewal.  It started a few days after the Winter Solstice, and ran for days or weeks into January.  (What else is January good for, except partying?)

Because merchants want us to buy our gifts, instead of making them ourselves, as was done in the old days, they sponser concerts, public events, lighting displays, and anything eles that they can think of to get people out shopping.  Gradually, the Christmas season has swung around from the weeks after the Winter Solstice to the weeks before the Winter Solstice.  Inadvertantly, we have moved a festival of Life into a time when the LifeForce is ebbing from the land, leaving nothing for when the days begin to get longer.

To make things even more unsettling, late autumn has always been a time when people tried to conserve their resources as much as possible, by staying close to home, eating very little, and sleeping a lot.  For thousands and thousands of years, what food we had would have to last until Spring, at the earliest.  So, getting out and being extra active in late autumn just feels wrong somehow.

We must remember our instinctual heritage, what cultures practiced before written history, when analyzing our motivations and emotional responses to modern societie’s demands.  There are ample reasons for feeling confused and out of sorts in the weeks ahead, and some we don’t even acknowledge.

Have a wonderful Harvest Festival!