I don't usually write about religion on my blog, but today happens to be my favorite holiday (If I've said that before it is because I have several favorites). Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. One of the reasons that I like today as a holiday is that Halmark hasn't figured it out yet (and I would really prefer to keep it that way).
Today is my favorite holiday due to the symbolism. I'm going to be honest, I know very little about paganism and I don't know completely my church's thoughts on my celebration of this pagan holiday. I'm OK with that because the symbolism surrounding today brings me closer to things that are extremely important to me.
When we talk about the Christmas story we say that it's the day of Christ's birth and then we talk about the shepherds in the fields. Ummm... if the flocks were in the field during Christ's birth then it wasn't the dead of winter, it was likely spring. So why do we celebrate Christmas in the dead of winter? I think it is because most Pagan groups celebrate today, the shortest day of the year. After today the days will get longer and longer (until June 21). The Christians of old didn't know the day Christ was born, but the Pagans in the neigborhood had a 'dead of winter' celebration and they wanted something at the same time. (You will find that in the Bible in the book of Sans)
So I like my Pagan 'dead of winter' celebration.
The reason that I really like this day is because it is the returning of light. Think of light for just a moment. Put yourself in the shoes of an ancient civilization that doesn't live in an equitorial region. What does light mean to you? What does light bring to the world?
Light brings heat. Light also allows photosynthetic plants to do their thing and grow. Plants are sort of important in the world that we live in. We rely heavily on plants for food, and even if you have succumbed to the ills known as the Atkin's Diet you rely on plants to feed the flesh that you eat. So we all rely on light for food.
Oh and something about photosynthesis and the use of carbon dioxide and production of oxygen. Without plants, that wouldn't happen and we wouldn't be able to breath. So without light we would have no food to eat or oxygen to breath. That makes light important for our existance. So I think it's important to celebrate light and what it brings to the world.
More importantly, on this date, this Pagan season for celebrating light, the Christian world has chosen to celebrate the birth of Christ. Christ is the light and life of this world. While I think the early Christians missed the mark by four days, that's OK, today is the real day of Christmas. Today is the day to celebrate not only the return of sunlight, but also the the light and life of the world, Jesus Christ. Like the sunlight that is returning brings all life to the earth, Christ, through his life and death brought life to all who live on the earth.
So today is my Halmark free celebration of light. A day for meditation and reflection of the lights in my life. Obviously I've spoken of nature and Jesus, but also those things that make my life enjoyable like my wife and kids, the oportunities to learn and experience life, and my family and friends that I love and appreciate.
I'm not a big fan of Christmas because I feel that consumerism is working hard to destroy it (although I very much enjoy the traditions my family have), so I want to wish you all (or should I say both of you?) a very merry Pagan celebration of light. Take time to reflect on what light does in your life as well as the sources of light.