So, I’ve been thinking about Christmas. I’m not religious in the slightest, but my best friend is. I’ll talk about my feelings on “best friends” later – reminder for myself. No matter your views or thoughts on Winter Holidays (yes- there is more than just “Christmas”), I think the true “meaning of the season” is lost. When the holidays are upon me, I want to step back and appreciate what I have in my life. The relationships, the tangible aspects, the year that has passed, all the years that have passed…
Obligatory gift-giving is starting to become tedious and off-putting. I don’t want a gift from someone because it is a day of the year. I still want to celebrate, sure – but can we cut the second mortgage and left leg? How about if I see something that I think you just need or absolutely reminds me of you, I’ll grab it. If I don’t see anything that does such, I can make you a thoughtful little note or card. Spending time together, sharing recipes and memories, making new memories, reflecting, and keeping one another warm. That’s what I want out of the winter holidays. Joy, warmth, food, happiness, and memories.
How do we re-write the script on these traditions? I guess, let’s reflect on a few traditions with different origins to start. Of course, I won’t get every origin of winter holidays in the slightest. I’ll just be brushing upon the surface of some interesting ones for funsies.
- Celebration of longer and brighter days ahead
- Masculine tradition was to bring a “yule log” home to burn while the feminine tradition was to decorate the home with various evergreens and candles to welcome light in
- Feast of Juul: A yule (“juul”) log was ceremoniously burned to honor Thor and encourage/honor warmth, light, and life.
- Ritualistically offering gifts to the gods during winter sowing season (farmers)
- Honoring Saturn, the god of agriculture and time
- Decor such as wreaths, evergreens, and togas
- Music, dancing, gambling, feasting, exchanging gifts in honor of the return of light after the solstice.
- Known for being a large, loud, “best of times” celebration
- Dongzhi Festival:
- A Chinese Festival celebrating the arrival of the winter solstice
- Representative of yin and yang (positive and negative)
- Families gather to celebrate positivity in longer daylight hours– often while feasting.
- Dumplings are a staple in feasts to represent an ancient legend revolving around feeding the homeless to help them stay warm. (A traditional symbol being an ear – representative of an ear prevented from frostbite)
- Romanian celebration
- Dancing in bear costumes and celebrating at New Year to drive evil spirits away, as well as encouraging nutrient-rich soil for the coming year
- Joyful celebration in anticipation of the coming year
- Native American:
- Various Indigenous folks of the Americas celebrated (or do celebrate) the winter solstice with warmth and story-telling. It is a traditional way to entertain and teach children/pass wisdom along in the cold, windy, winter months when one was better off inside than out.
- The story-telling of certain animals was often done in the winter when these animals were hibernating, so they wouldn’t hear themselves being spoken of.
- The holiday is meant for family and the sharing of knowledge
I left Christianity out of the mix, because (based on every historical piece I’ve ever read on it) it’s just an amalgamation of various holidays celebrated prior to its existence. Don’t come at me, America – It’s not a war against Christmas. I enjoy the holiday, I just don’t think anyone is true to its roots anymore. It’s a commercial holiday for MASS profit.
I think before next year, I need to come up with a better plan to start getting back to the root of its existence. Don’t worry, the kids will still get some presents.
(Yeah, this was the most half-assed “research” ever but you get the idea. I know I left a ton of shit out. It was just for fun. I’m tired of “Walmart, Target, and Amazon Christmas”)