The winter solstice was a time of ritual celebration by many ancient cultures. Now we celebrate the Christian and popular secular holiday of Christmas on December 25. This year, both the full moon and winter solstice north of the equator (summer solstice south) occurred on December 21st along with a total eclipse! – the last such occurrence was 456 years ago!
The tradition of St. Nicholas/Santa Claus originated in the 4th century and was celebrated by gift-giving and charity. In 16th century Germany, Protestant reformer Martin Luther first adorned fir trees with candles to simulate starlight. The decorated Christmas tree was popularized throughout Victorian England by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Holly, Mistletoe, ivy and other greenery, long thought to have magical and healing powers, is still a traditional decoration for winter celebrations. Christmas stockings, themed music and caroling, sending Christmas cards, exchanging gifts and charity are all popular rituals of the season. Christmas celebrations are as varied as all the traditions brought to this country by immigrants.
A recent addition, in part due to the Christmas ritual of gifting, is receiving gifts on each of the 8-days of Hanukkah, the ancient Jewish holiday. The newest winter celebration is Kwanzaa when African-Americans celebrate their African heritage. There is an overwhelming amount of information on the Internet about the origins and traditions of Christmas like Christmas Around the World and All Things Christmas. It’s a fascinating exploration.
For us at Bette Boomer, it’s not just about the ritual, but a time when families and friends can briefly stop the world; a time-out for quiet thoughts about roots past, present and what they might be for future generations. Pause. Share. Reflect. Care.
We wish you joy on this ritual day.
Bette and Team