sexta-feira, 28 de dezembro de 2007

All About Christmas

In ancient pagan times, the last day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere was celebrated as the night that the Great Mother Goddess gives birth to the baby Sun God. It is also called Yule, the day a huge log is added to a bonfire, around which everyone would dance and sing to awaken the sun from its long winter sleep.

In Roman times, it became the celebrations honouring Saturnus (the harvest god) and Mithras (the ancient god of light), a form of sun worship that had come to Rome from Syria a century before with the cult of Sol Invictus. It announced that winter is not forever, that life continues, and an invitation to stay in good spirit.

In the year 274AD, solstice fell on 25th December. Roman Emperor Aurelian proclaimed the date as "Natalis Solis Invicti," the festival of the birth of the invincible sun. In 320 AD, Pope Julius I specified the 25th of December as the official date of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Jesus was born in March, yet his birth is celebrated on 25 December, the time of solstice. The Christmas celebrations end the 12th day of Christmas (6 January), the same amount of days that the return of the sun was celebrated by ancient and Roman pagans.

Today in the West, not many people consider the religious meaning to Christmas. Most people in US or Europe will not go to a religious church meeting, even at Christmas. It has become a busy race to spend money on presents, and get ready for the Day.

For me, It's the official Day of Family, with lots of Love, Food and Gifts.

'Father Christmas' (or 'Santa Claus') has become the human face of Christmas. Pictures will be seen everywhere of the old man with long white beard, red coat, and bag of toys. Children are taught that he brings them presents the night before Christmas (or in some countries on December 6th - St. Nicholas' Day), and many children up to the age of 7 or 8 really believe this is true. In most countries, it is said that he lives near the North Pole, and arrives through the sky on a sledge (snow-cart) pulled by reindeer. He comes into houses down the chimney at midnight and places presents for the children in socks or bags by their beds or in front of the family Christmas tree.

Father Christmas is based on a real person, St. Nicholas, which explains his other name 'Santa Claus' which comes from the Dutch 'Sinterklaas'. Nicholas was a Christian leader from Myra (in modern-day Turkey) in the 4th century AD. He was very shy, and wanted to give money to poor people without them knowing about it. It is said that one day, he climbed the roof of a house and dropped a purse of money down the chimney. It landed in the stocking which a girl had put to dry by the fire! This may explain the belief that Father Christmas comes down the chimney and places gifts in children's stockings.

In our X-mas, Father Christmas was actually a Woman - Mother Moira!

Trees were a symbol of life long before Christianity. Ancient Egyptians brought green palm branches into their homes on the shortest day of the year in December as a symbol of life's triumph over death. Ancient Finns used sacred groves instead of temples. Romans adorned their homes with evergreens during Saturnalia, a winter festival in honour of Saturnus, their god of agriculture. Druid priests decorated oak trees with golden apples for their winter solstice festivities. During December in the Middle Ages, trees were hung with red apples as a symbol of the feast of Adam and Eve, and called the Paradise Tree.

Germany is credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition as we now know it in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. Some built Christmas pyramids of wood and decorated them with evergreens and candles if wood was scarce.

Gifts were exchanged in the Roman ceremonies of Saturnalia, the festivities of solstice, the origin of our Christmas celebrations. We know the exchanging of gifts best from the three magi mentioned in the Bible. But as mentioned in the History of Christmas, during the previous centuries Christmas was a solemn affair. Religious puritans reminded Christians that the Magi gave gifts only to Jesus, not to His family or to each other. But since the celebration of Christ's birth was incorporated with the solstice festivities outside the official church, and since Christmas really became widely popular during the last century, it has become a commercial phenomenon.

The custom of gift-giving on Christmas goes back to Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Kalends. The very first gifts were simple items such as twigs from a sacred grove as good luck emblems. Soon that escalated to food, small items of jewelry, candles, and statues of gods.

For me, It was a water can full of Joy, Love and Nice Smells.

To the early Church, gift-giving at this time was a pagan holdover and therefore severely frowned upon. However, people would not part with it, and some justification was found in the original gift giving of the Magi, and from figures such as St. Nicholas. By the middle ages gift giving was accepted. Before then it was more common to exchange gifts on New Year's Day or Twelfth Night.

The Magi came and gave the baby Jesus gifts. How many Magi were there? Actually, the Bible does not say. It is thought to be three because the Bible mentions three types of gifts: gold, incense and myrrh. Eastern traditions favour twelve.

For Don, it was the possibility to restore old memories!

The three gifts of the Magi had a prophetic meaning: gold, the gift for a king; incense, the gift for a priest; and myrrh, a burial ointment as a gift for one who would die.

For Arie, it means joy and a pair of fancy shoes for Faby!

For Mai, the hidden meaning is that Christmas is the festival of the human heart. It is a time of year when all the universe conspires to raise the vibratory level of consciousness on earth to one of peace and love toward ourselves and one another. This season resonates to the sweet, childlike innocence that resides in all of us. A time when the heavenly forces inspire us to shift our focus away from fear and toward one of joy, and healing.

And lots of gifts to warm, literally, the body and the soul.

Happy Holidays!

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