According to this page, this post is dated at the exact moment of the Winter Solstice in EST this year, even though I’m writing it after this time (by several hours). So hey, let the belated goat blood sacrafices and orgies begin!
Seriously though, it seems that people have gotten awfully worked up this year by the whole Christmas versus “Happy Holidays” thing. I guess it is more or less the sign of the times of an increasingly conservative and (supposedly) religious nation, and I guess it is also the right’s way of distracting folks from what’s going on. Or maybe it just makes for good newspaper fodder, I don’t know.
For my whole life, Christmas has largely been a secular holiday. Sure, I go to church when I go home to see my family (because they go to church), but that’s about it. For me, Christmas has never had the overt religious feel of, say, Easter. Christmas goes on WAY too long and is WAY too commercial to be a completely religious holiday, in my opinion. Personally, I’ve always thought about Christmas as a time to be with family, to see old friends, to exchange gifts, to eat and drink too much, and to huddle together in the cold and rejoice in the coming light.
Oh wait– that light bit is solstice. Because after all, as this page suggests, a lot of the things that we associate with Christmas are really more the result of the Celtic traditions of the Winter Solstice. And when the whole “Merry Christmas” versus “Happy Holidays” thing came up on the ABC Sunday morning show “This Week” this past Sunday, Cookie Roberts said that the solstice used to be celebrated on December 25 because that was the first day that people without basic astronomical and time telling tools could really tell the days were getting longer again. And if Cookie Roberts says it’s true it must be true.
In any event, it seems obvious to me that the early Christians saw the Winter Solstice as a nice and symbolically significant date to claim as the birth of Jesus– you know, “light” of the world, yadda-yadda-yadda. Anyway, good for them, and 2000 years later, we get a fat guy in a red suit, excessive shopping and credit card debt, the best Peanuts cartoon of all, and happiness and goodwill.
Which is all my way of saying hey, say Merry Christmas, say Happy Holidays, say Happy Hanukkah, say Happy Kwanzaa. Oh yeah– Festivus is the day after tomorrow, so get out that pole.