Now that the holiday season is in full swing, some of us are celebrating the different traditions of the season and some of us keep our heads down and wait for all the hoopla to end. Whichever approach you take, it is almost impossible not to notice the signs, sounds and sights of the holidays.
I have heard that December 25 was set as the date of Christmas to coincide with the Pagan tradition of celebrating the winter solstice which occurs every December 21. Where did some of the other traditions originate such as Christmas trees, Hanukkah dreidels and gold candy, hanging wreaths on doors, mistletoe, lights, holly, etc.?
Here is a story I recently read of how hanging wreaths at this time of year may have come into practice as a holiday tradition.
Long ago, in a far north country, there was fear that when the days got shorter, in the late fall, the Sun God was abandoning them. As it got colder and darker and the muddy roads turned to impassable frozen ruts, fearful people took wheels from their now useless wagons and hung them from the ceilings of their little huts.
They cut fresh pine boughs, an evergreen symbol of life, to lay upon the wheels and, in succeeding weeks, as the darkness deepened, they added lamps to the wheels in hope that each new light would encourage the Sun God not to leave them, but to return again.
Sure enough, it worked. By the time of the winter solstice, with several lamps burning brightly, they perceived that ever so slowly, even as the days got colder, the light – the Sun – was returning. New life would soon follow as the ground thawed and the rutted roads became mud again, and they could put the wheels back on their wagons, take their children to the village for festivals, and plant grain, and live without fear of starving.
This tradition of the wheels dressed in evergreens and candles, has evolved into the current day practice of hanging circular evergreen wreaths which are still sometimes adorned with lights.
Our Unitarian Universalists principles help us to keep the light shining in our own and each other’s lives during December and all throughout the year. As members and friends of OCUUC, we can rely on our beloved community and our UU principles to help us navigate our way through this sometimes stressful and sometimes joyful holiday season.
With best wishes to you all,