Ah December, that month between giving thanks for the abundance of the harvest to shore us up through the “twilight” time of the year and the marking of the hope and promise of the new year ahead. Yep traditionally human-kind has had a good portion of our “holidays” between the seasons of fall and spring. This tells me that we were closely monitoring and relying on the cycles of the seasons.
Throughout history humans have created rituals to emphasize important transitional times in our lives. We mark and record these transitions on a regular basis based on the skies above our heads, to our own human designed calendars and create traditions. There is one common theme to our rituals, festivals and holy days throughout the ages, especially during winter – to be humble as we remind ourselves that humans are but a very miniscule part of the universe around us.
The Holiday Season in the month of December is not just about all the various spiritual observances. No instead we should remember that winter is celebrated all over the world with various celebrations, holidays and festivals that are linked to the solstice, in addition to religions and traditions.
My heritage and grandparents have given me a unique blend of Scotch/Irish Winter Solstice with a Yule log and the Roman Saturnalia, all mixed with “modern” Christianity.
Although neither set of grandparents had a tree in the house, they both decorated an outdoor “tree of green” with gifts from the harvest for our wild friends (seeds in cakes of lard, cranberries, popcorn, etc).
Small gifts of thanks and good will were exchanged between family members and close friends. Midnight mass or “prayer of thanks” (depending on the weather) was a ritual common to both sides of the family. Above all was the hope of spring, better times ahead, saving grace and thanks for making it through the current year.
Give us the faith to trust Your goodness in spite of our ignorance and weakness.
Give us the knowledge that we may continue to pray with understanding hearts.
And show us what each one of us can do to set forward the coming of the day of universal peace.
Frank Borman, Apollo 8 space mission, 1968