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winter solstice

winter solstice (Photo credit: AlicePopkorn)

I received two seed catalogs yesterday, The timing is not coincidental. Now that the the amount of daylight will increase a bit each day, seed growers know that gardeners thoughts move toward Spring planting.

I enjoy winter and the chance for rest; however, I take comfort knowing that we are heading in a warmer direction and that the outdoors will come alive once again. 

Winter festivals celebrating the solstice predate Christianity. There is little doubt that December 25th was chosen as Christ’s birth date because early Church Fathers wanted to infuse winter festivals with Christianity. So, what Christians celebrate, even today, is really a hybrid of winter/solstice festivals and Christ’s birth. The solstice elements: Yule logs, greenery, lights, and partying!

Because of the solstice symbols, the Puritans banned Christmas in the American colonies from 1659-1681. After the American Revolution, Christmas fell out of favor again because it was a European (enemy) tradition. Charles Dickens (mid 1800s) revived Christmas in his book A Christmas Carol, which promoted Christmas as a family holiday centered on goodwill. In 1870, Christmas became a Federal Holiday in the U.S

In the last hundred years, another element squeezed in: rampant materialism. With Christmas so focused on materialism, maybe the only hope for those who want a meaningful and spiritual winter festival is to change the date to the Winter Solstice. No one knows the real date of Jesus’ birth anyway, plus his message is bigger than the Christian box we stuffed him into. Let’s release Jesus this year and let him rise again with the winter sun.

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