Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas / Happy Solstice

Tomorrow day is Christmas Eve. The annual day of celebration. One day before Christmas day, which I have learned is the day Americans celebrate. Tomorrow is Julafton. Hence the popular saying: God Jul. Which in english would mean: Merry times of Yule. This is according to some referencing the pre-christian pagan way of life of northern Europe.

I am a firm believer that Christmas should not exclusively be about presents and gifts, at least not forcibly so. But I enjoy it if is done in the right spirit. It can bring us closer together, no matter what faith. Sweden is no different from other parts of Europe though in the sense that there is a lot of focus on shopping. Very much so. I don't particularly care for it.

Living in the northern hemisphere these are times which brings very little direct sunlight to us. We have been blessed with snow this year though, which makes the days much more joyful. It brightens the season and makes the long walks I enjoy taking enjoyable. Especially because I get to experience the snow in such a direct way. I had almost forgotten how lovely the sound is that it makes when trodden on by a pair of shoes. I do hope we get to keep it.

Even with the snow: were it not for electricity there would be only a few hours of sunlight for the moment being. Now many of us can take part in the luxury of doing what I do now, even write a blog-note in the middle of the night the day before Christmas eve.

This time of the year nearing the end of December is not only known as Christmas: but also as winter Solstice - the day when the axis of the earth is tilted so that we in the northern hemisphere have access to the least sun in the year. Both winter Solstice (vintersolståndet) and Christmas are two days of importance which coincide practically at the same time of the year.

Christ as Sol, found in necropolis under St. Peter's Mid-3rd century Grotte Vaticane, Rome.

Christmas signifies the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the messiah of the Christian religion. In some traditions both modern and antique Jesus is seen as corresponding to the sun. Which is found in the above image. Various strands of orthodox Christianity often downplay this connection, sometimes claiming that this leads to reducing Jesus to a pagan deity among other deities.

I don't care for theological fights of wits. Somewhere along those conflicts what should be important often is forgotten. The core message which the season is all about. Which according to Christianity would be summed up in the two basic tenets "Love the Lord your God" and "Love thy neighbor", according to Matthew 22:36-40.

I cherish synchronicity. The idea of seeing similarities and universal themes and connections in philosophy and religion. To me it allows me to open up my perspective to see the very open and dynamic process which our lives are a part of.

To some this time of the year signifies the birth of Jesus Christ, the benefactor of mankind. For others it is the time of the seasonal cycle which signifies the farthest point in which darkness will prevail under the current season. And the turning point in which the sun is slowly but steadily going to return into our lives. The birth of a new season. For some it is just a good time to spend with family and friends.

No matter which category you belong to, or if you would like to describe your view of the season in a totally different way: I am going to leave this blog post in the seasonal greeting which is often heard here in Sweden.

God Jul och Gott Nytt År

Which could be translated to:
merry Yule and a merry new years eve.


Alicia @ boylerpf said...

Wonderful correlation between the solstice and the birth of Jesus!

Here in the states...I'm wishing you a very Merry Christmas!!

Sarah said...

I could not have said it better if I had tried hon!! Wow..wonderful post!
I struggle with this myself..being spritual rather than one thing..many. I also would love to have some of the commercial part of the holidays go away a bit!! I think it truly takes away from the beauty of the season.
I am have snow..somehow we do not! I do love the snow!! Such beauty!
May your holiday season be bright hon..full of love and light.
I have been blessed to get to know you this is to a wonderful next!
Namaste and hugs, Sarah

Delena said...

I am glad you stumbled upon my blog. Yes, I love snow to look at but it gets really tiring to live in for four or five months. Hence we go down south for the winter and travel back home for Christmas with the family. We are blessed!

Renee said...

Your blog is always very interesting.

Merry Christmas.

Love Renee xoxo

Mike said...

The picture you have posted with Christ and the horses has a lot of symbolism to it that comes from the temple imagery of the first temple.The temples were constructed and aligned to establish a solar calendar and faced East."As the glory of the Lord entered the temple by the gate facing East;The spirit lifted me up (horses?)and brought me into the inner court and the Glory of God filled the temple" (Ezek 43.2,4,5)God was envisioned as sitting on a chariot throne in the Holy of Holy's and the original temple had horses mounted on the top of it.At the Autumn equinox the rays of the rising sun would shine through the gate and illuminated the great golden throne in the debir.The temple horses appear else where as steeds of the Lords agents and St. John alludes to them in the book of Revelations.In 2 Kings 23:11 we read of King Josiah reform of the Jewish religion prompted by the Duteronomists (the puritanical reformers and editors of the Pentateuch)"He removed the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun, at the entrance at the house of the Lord".It was at this time that Judaism became monotheistic and Wisdom,The Queen of Heaven (El Shaddai,God with breasts)was purged from the temple cult.She had been represented by the shew bread,"Bread of Presence" and later O.T. texts describe the shew bread as having been polluted.The vine in the picture alludes to the Tree of Life,the Menorah.Jesus was both the Light and the Vine and the picture shows him riding his chariot throne pulled by solar horses.Early Christians understood first temple imagery and saw Christ as fulfilling it.It maybe that the Pagan imagery we see is not so much an addition to Christianity but rather an aspect of an earlier form of Judaism that got purged during the period of the 2nd temple reforms.

Anonymous said...

The wonder of the snow makes the world sleep and rest, which my father said it needs to to for some months. That, in itself, is enough to be religious: the white powder covering virtually everything, even the sky as it is filled with heavy, snowy clouds.
So, thank you for this one, my dear friend Roberto! Cya this evening!

Black Butterfly said...

Thanks so much for your all-inclusive post. We share many of the same beliefs and attitudes toward this time of year.

God Jul och Gott Nytt År,