Calling in the Sun
Christmas in modern times is often associated with celebrating the birth of the Jesus of Nazareth. Many people are realizing that Christmas, Hannukka and Kwanza originated from many different cultures throughout human history! The Winter Solstice is the longest night and shortest day of the year. The Earth’s axis tilts the furthest away from the sun at 23-and-a-half degrees, giving all locations north of the equator less than 12 hours of daylight. This moment has been marked and celebrated by mankind for centuries. For the ancient, winter was a time of cold and darkness and for many Celts, Norsemen, Romans, and Egyptians it was seen as the death of the Sun god. Celebrations were held as a calling for the Sun’s Return.
Yule Tide, Yule Log
Scandinavia’s Norsemen called the Winter Solstice –Yule – believing that the Sun stood still for 12 days and so, families would feast by Yule logs that they lit up. It could take up to 12 days to burn out, each spark was believed to represent a new pig or calf that would be born in the new year. The “12 days to Christmas” and hanging lights representing fire and sparks of lights around a Christmas Tree must have come from here, as each sparkle symbolizes a blessing for the coming year!
Kiss Under a Mistletoe
The Celtics, a pagan people, who celebrated the natural cycle of nature, believed that the mistletoe is a sacred plant, called “All Heal”. It was believed that it could cure illnesses, served as an antidote for poisons and soon they started hanging it over their doors to offer good will to visitors. This is where the idea of that famous kiss under a mistletoe comes from!
Wreath Of Saturn
In the Iron Age, the Romans celebrated Saturnalia by decorated their homes with Holly Wreaths and were given as gifts in honor of the Sun god Saturn and as a form of protection. Romans saw the Holly plant as magical for its ability to survive during the harsh winter and so they associated protection with the Holly Wreath. Hanging wreaths on your door creates an aura of protection for the winter months.
Christmas is Chosen
Originally, the Christian calendar focused mainly on Easter. It was until the fourth century that the Church decided to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ’s and not just his death. Since the Bible did not point to an exact date when Christ was born, Pope Julius I chose Dec. 25. It’s commonly believed that the church chose the date in an effort to replace the Roman Saturnalia with the Christian holiday. Which eventually became the new Christian Roman Empire.
Hope of Humanity
Regardless, of how you celebrate, The common denominator with all these cultures and spiritual traditions were that they lived at a time where Winter was very harsh to their land and families and survival was dependent upon the Sun’s Return! These celebrations offered hope for the future that their Sun god or Child of Light would be reborn. Christmas celebrations coincides with the same theme where Jesus is a Holy Child of Light, bringing hope of good news and merry tidings! The fact is that the ancients believed these days to be the “Holy Days” hence the word “Holidays”. I believe that they are a reminder that every day we walk this earth is Holy and Sacred and to live each day with hope for the future! That is what I believe is the essence of having Christmas Spirit –Hope!