Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The True Meaning of Christmas

Oh here we go. Some claptrap about the birth of Christ? (sorry Christians). Yeah... I'm not terribly Christian besides which, Christianity is a fairly young religion. It has roots elsewhere. Good will to all men? Naff. If you're not showing goodwill the entire year round you're missing the point. Presents? Nope. Who needs more crap.

So what is the meaning of "Christmas"? I was saying to my mother last just how many celebrations there are on Solstice (I'm purposely not saying Winter Solstice given that I'm in the southern hemisphere). I ended up reading through the Hindu celebration - which funnily enough is now in the middle of January. This is due to the changes in calendar. A friend of mine had gone to India to work and had said that simply printing calendars was a lucrative and full time business given the different calendars in India. Anyway, we were reading up on it in wikipedia and it turns out we were in India at one stage during the celebration. And funnily Christmas wasn't a big deal for that trip (we were in England). Rather, it's what we term "kite day" that I remember from that trip. It was a competitive sport. You'd do your best to cut down other people's kites using your glass infused string (don't try flying kites without gloves). It turned out, at the tender age of 6, I was crap at flying 'em. Still, I could help repair kites.

Anyway, that's beside the point. The Hindus have celebrated a Solstice festival since... well who can remember? (at this point, we would have to remember that the Hindus have the oldest written texts). And just before you accuse me of pushing Hinduism, remember, the Maori have a winter solstice celebration celebrated in June called Maruaroa o Takurua.

So what is Christmas really about? It's a time of hope. The worst of winter is all over. Solstice marks the shortest (and longest for the summer solstice) day of the year. So for winter solstice, people would bring evergreens into the house (like pine) and decorate them as an indication that the worst was over and things were going to get better.

Think in terms of survival. Spring, you'd plant your crops. You'd probably get a few crops through summer. Come winter though, with the snow covering the ground, food was sparse. The only things you'd have to eat are the things you stored away in the cellar. Come solstice, you'd know spring was on its way and you'd have the opportunity to grow food again.

So solstice marks seasonal holidays based upon the celestial calendar which was all about survival.

Nowadays I would like to think that we're a little beyond just survival and thus, solstice has very little meaning. Rather, it's simply a chance to celebrate...

So what's Christmas about? Nothing in particular... it's just an excuse to get together with friends and family to celebrate.

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