Christmas, its origins shrouded in the space held by our predecessors whose rituals hosted in the wan light of a low lying Northern Sun long before tinsel and twinkling lights adorned evergreen branches, is upon those whose cultures celebrate the birth of the Christ. Cleverly syncretically absorbed into its political institution in the fourth century, Christmas has its roots not only the community gatherings to honour the Winter Solstice, the merriment of the Roman Saturnalia and the birth from a rock of the Persian Mithras. Modern day Christmas bears the indelible mark of many different traditions, not lest the German’s adherence to jollity – reformer Martin Luther illuminated the dark winter nights with the first Christmas tree, adorning it with candles to symbolize the twinkling stars above; the festive Christkindlmarkts introducing the delights of gingerbread cookies and mulled wine; the iconic figure of the Weihnachtsmann, a precursor to the modern Santa Claus, embodying the Saturnalian spirit of generosity and gift-giving; and a plethora of carols which have transcended borders and languages to become a universal anthem of peace and joy.
Yes there have been times when Christmas was not marked, especially by the seventeenth century Purtians who wished this time to be one of austere reflection and then in the eighteenth century when the industrial complex wouldn’t grant time to workers to celebrate. But Dickens’ immortal tale of Ebenezar Scrooge, reminding exhausted workers that there is more to life than money, served as a catalyst for Capitalists to cleverly hide their commercial interests, using carefully constructed images, to manipulate the imaginations of those who simply the quintessential human hunger for connection and joy, whilst lining their pockets.
Currently Christmas serves as a cherished time for families and friends to come together in the hope to foster a sense of unity and connection; to encourage acts of kindness, generosity, and goodwill; and to promote a spirit of giving that extends beyond material gifts to include love, time, and attention. But for others Christmas is a dark time when those festivities seem far removed from their own reality, as family and personal circumstances do not permit Light to bring a simile to their hearts. Away from the wantonness and excessiveness that Christmas has become, Christmas is a deeper celebration of our relationship to the Light that generates Life. It is a reminder of the ever changing balance between the Shadow and the Light, as Southerners commence their descent towards longer evenings, and Northerners eagerly anticipate the growing Light.
Christmas is about our Light, and it is my hope that you can spend some time reflecting on the quality of your Light and how it is directed into the world; whether it is kind, considerate and without egoic hunger and desire; as well as how your Light can create a world that is simple and straightforward, that asks for nothing in return, other than to be.
I wish you, regardless of your convictions, Light on this day
Art by Rand Burns