Since growing up (mostly) I find myself like most I imagine searching for deeper meaning during Christmas. I am all ready a “what does this all mean?” kind of person. This Christmas, what does it mean? My family holds to the advent and the typical christian traditions surrounding Christmas. I find all that inspiring and moving but I am still left hungry for more meaning and understanding in the motivations behind traditions.
Humans need to celebrate life in a time of death, light in the season of darkness, and charity in a season of scarcity and poverty. We celebrate the paradox of what is our reality. We celebrate the sun’s return when the days start to become longer again. We celebrate God’s humility. A god born in poverty, a mighty king as a defenseless infant, the savior born hunted
I see the connection of the solstice. Sine the start of civilization, we have sought out each other’s company when the world becomes the darkest. Though the coldest months when survival is at its most difficult, we naturally group together and try to remember life and light and birth. Our nordic past brings in the evergreen to remind us that not everything is dead this season. Evergreens are like out rainbows reminding us of the promise that life will return and growth continues to happen despite the dormant seemingly lifelessness of the season. Evergreens teach that few things actually die, most are only sleeping. We have only to survival on the inside and wait for a thaw. The Mediterranean traditions bring us a month of worship for the god Saturn or saturnalia. Many familiar things come from this celebration. Without a history lesson, this festival yields social upheaval where the masters temporarily trade status with the working class. Interesting that this type of things tends to keep the class structure in check and avoid revolution. This also brings us juvenailia, the celebration of youth and fertility and birth. Or rebirth. Although in this area of the world there were not snows to kill crops nor long periods of darkness. The story of these traditions becoming christian are well documented and obvious and not terribly interesting to me.
The Santa Claus story never resonated with me. I suppose on a deeper level that is because I don’t think there are many rich themes of architypes. Although there are many stories among several cultures of a flying elf or saint coming around to determine you fortunes (good or bad) giving gifts or visiting tricks. He usually passed in the night as did most “spirits”. My Wife reminds me that the Santa story is more about the celebration of children and youthfulness around christmas. There is an important place for magical thinking around the season, gift bearing man coming down the chimney, a reindeer towed sleigh landing on the roof, toys made by elves.
Humans need to celebrate life in a time of death, light in the season of darkness, and charity in a season of scarcity and poverty. We celebrate the paradox of what is our reality. We celebrate the sun’s return when the days start to become longer again. We celebrate God’s humility. A god born in poverty, a mighty king as a defenseless infant, the savior born hunted.