Shifting Paradigms in Christmas Traditions!
Updated: December 20, 2009
I’m infatuated with Light. Especially thermal light, because I live in the north and I’m always cold this time of year. I’m a consummate heat seeker (gimme flannel pj’s, hot cocoa and a fluffy divan – and I’m done like a Christmas dinner).
When I moved to New York from Texas, I encountered major shifting paradigms in Christmas traditions. It’s not that my in-laws partied differently from my Texan kin – it’s because I’d never experienced such a distance from the Sun before. It may sound funny, but my first frigid, frost-bitten Christmas up here gave me pause, and made me reevaluate my holiday rituals.
At its most fundamental, this time of year is rooted in our relationship to the heat and light of the Sun. No matter what religion you are devoted to, look into your doctrine and you will find themes of Light woven into the traditions inherent this time of year.
Don’t believe me? Here are just a few observations:
The name “Christ” can literally be translated to mean “Light.” In my view, the core of Christmas traditions typically revolves around celebrating the Birth of Light. It doesn’t matter whether you attribute the actual birth of Christ this time of year or in the Spring – the foundational value of this holiday is to recognize spiritual Light dancing on the surface of our awareness. In fact, we can start shifting paradigms in Christmas traditions by focusing on igniting the Light of our consciousness this time of year. This is an eloquent way to both honor the Christ of Christianity and radiate out our Christ light from within.
The ancient Norse, among other northern European and Icelandic peoples can be credited for this jovial holiday. Its relationship to Light is found in many traditions, including the Yule Log. The log is burned in honor of natural Light, in knowing the Sun’s presence will linger a bit longer on the Earth every day after the winter solstice. The Yule Log is also symbolic of Spiritual Light – a metaphoric reminder that even in the long night of the soul, our inner Light is ever-present.
Saturnalia and Sol Invictus:
Saturnalia is a Roman festival just prior to Sol Invictus. It’s a celebration of role reversals. In fact, Boxing Day is very much a carry-over from Saturnalia. Servants become masters and vice versa. This is deeply symbolic of the change in regimes and the transition between the dark and light half of the year. Saturnalia also marks the change in regime from the Golden Age of man (symbolic of Light and the Sun) to the Silver Age as expressed in myth when Saturn was overthrown by Jupiter. After several weeks of raucous partying, Saturnalia gives way to Sol Invictus which is a full-out reverence for the invincible power and returning presence of the Sun (Light).
These are just a few examples of how Light is the theme underscoring Christmas traditions.
Whether we are contemplating Christmas traditions from a metaphorical perspective, or rocking ’round the Christmas tree at the company party hop – to be sure, the prima-crux at this time of year is the position of the Sun (both physically and spiritually).
So here are my two cents (and how ultimately my paradigm shifting in Christmas traditions influenced my view of the holidays):
1.) The winter solstice is an initiation – a time to boldly walk through the sting of winter’s chill and the cloak of darkness – knowing the promise of warmth and Light shall return to our awareness.
2.) In metaphor, the Sun is akin to the Soul and this time of year urges us to make more bright (or perhaps rekindle) the Light within.
In closing, I invite you to reevaluate your own holiday traditions – do they honor the sanctity of Light? How does the theme of Light and “Soul Dawning” come into play with your traditions?
To be sure, this is a time of awakening, resurgence and energetic potential. So pay attention to the Light this holiday season – that’s what it’s all about.