I can’t believe how quickly 2011 has passed. Evidently, this perception change is a sign of old age. It seems like only a month or so ago that the northern hemisphere went through the Summer Solstice, and the southern hemisphere saw their Winter Solstice.
The north’s Winter Solstice has historically been a really big deal because most of the civilizations exist up here. There is simply more land mass above sea level north of the Equator. That means us northerners have had more time to observe and celebrate our holidays that we have created to commemorate this annual event.
The winter holiday politically correct police would like that I simply say “Merry Christmas” and be done with it. That’s just not my style. I’d rather say “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” and be done with it. The reasons are many. Or maybe I should say the seasons are many?
Several centuries ago, Winter Solstice was a very major time of year. Not only was Christmas originally celebrated on Solstice Day, but earlier cultural festivals were as well. There were events like Saturnalia for the Romans. Sometimes the tail end of Hanukkah happened near Solstice time even though that holiday was not originally associated with the apparent position of the sun in the sky.
There are times when the end of Ramadan coincides, somewhat with this time of year because the Islamic calendar is based on lunar cycles. Yesterday, I touched on Pancha Ganapati, that important Hindu holiday.
If you pride yourself in keeping Saturn in Saturnalia, you really need to look to more antique holiday observances. The ancient Persian Empire celebrated Yalda as the longest night of the year. Mithra, the sun god, was born on Winter Solstice at dawn to a virgin mother. I have a soft spot in my heart for the traditional Scandinavian and Germanic day of Solstice. Yule is the time that the old Swedes, Danes, and other German tribes held up as the Solstice holiday. This is where the term “Yuletide” is derived. I must remember to keep Thor in Yule.
I get so confused when I try to keep all the Solstice holidays straight. Even though Hanukkah and Ramadan fall outside of Solstice and the Western Christian church moved Christmas to December 25th, with Eastern Christians celebrating it on January 7th. We tend to lump them all into the wintery time of year.
That’s why I want to make certain to wish you and yours a very Happy/Merry Chrismahanukwanzadan and a Happy New Year.
(You may copy and send this special greeting “card” to your friends.)
I hope you’ll not be offended by any oversight I may have committed. I guess the Pastafarians are OK with a simple “Holiday” greeting because they’re so non-dogmatic. Perhaps you celebrate “Freezingman” as a counterpoint to “Burning Man” in Colorado?
Maybe as a true friend on Facebook, you hold “Kwansolhaneidmas” near and dear to your heart. There are some who celebrate Decemberween that occurs 55 days following Hallowe’en. I’m sure there are others, as well. If your ethnic group or nation of origin has a special Winter Solstice festival, I hope you and your family have a very special holiday get-together.
Happy Solstice to you!
The Blue Jay of Happiness wishes you a “Happy Soyal” as celebrated by some native people in the U.S. Southwestern states.