Wednesday, December 5, 2012
CHRISTMAS - ANOTHER PERSPECTIVE
It would appear that the modern day version of “Bah Humbug” is “I hate the commercialization of Christmas” or “They’ve forgotten the true meaning of Christmas”. Whenever someone starts their diatribe with these or similar phrases, I just smile. Most of the time they think that smile indicates that I am in agreement with them. Mostly, but with a bit of a twist.
Let me explain. This is what I “know” about “Christmas”.
When the founders of the newly organized Christian Church began to spread its gospel throughout Europe, it discovered many different “religions”….Nordic gods, Celts, Druids, etc. Although the religious practices were different the Church was quick to realize there was one major reoccurring theme throughout Europe. All nations seemed to have some sort of celebration around the Winter and Summer Solstice and the Autumnal and Spring Equinox.
One of the strongest of these celebrations centered around the Winter Solstice. The Winter Solstice occurred at the end of the hunting/gathering/harvest season. It was a time when people were preparing for the long winter months. They would take “inventory” of the fruits of their work and decide just how much they would need and what was an excess…and that excess would be given to others in exchange for their excess. For example, if one had an excess of meat it would be given to one who had little meat. If one had an excess of nuts or berries, it would be given to those who had little, etc. etc. Because the well-being of the tribe depended upon every individual’s well-being the excess was not bartered, but was given freely. Trusting that whoever had an excess would share and realizing that if there were no excess it was still a good thing to share your own excess so that the tribe would be stronger. This exchange of “excess” was usually accompanied by a great feast and some sort of celebration, after which the tribe would wish each other well and good health and retreat to their cave/hut/home for winter, sometimes not being seen again until the Spring.
Try as they may, the founders of the Church could not dissuade people from these celebrations. So, the church leaders decided to “highjack” the tradition in a case of “if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em”. It was decided to move the celebration of Jesus’ birth from Spring (when he was really born) to around the Winter Solstice, and it was decided to superimpose the giving of the “excess”gifts to the story of the gifts of the Magi. This way the Church no longer had to fight the celebrations of the indigenous people but merely attempted to change its purpose and meaning and make it a “holy day” and to have a Christ Mass.
So, am I suggesting that you no longer celebrate the Season with whatever spiritual/religious meaning it has for you? Absolutely not! In fact, just the opposite.
During the many years of my intense study of comparative religions one of the things that struck me was how many of the major and minor religions have holidays around the time of the Solstice. I have also been struck with the energies of that Season and how it seems to be the one time when there is an actual opening of the heart and a genuine wish for good will. In essence, the heart chakra of the world opens up during this time and the ability to connect with others is intensified. It has been my personal tradition to engage in meditations of peace and love and send these energies to all beings on the Earth and to the Earth itself. In other words, I have “high-jacked” the Season’s Greetings for my own spiritual purpose.
So have a very, very, very, very Happy Holiday Season by whatever name you may call it. And perhaps, when you hear others complain that the true meaning of the Season has been lost, you too may have a silly little smile upon your face.
Great Love to All - JOAN