It is almost as if I have woken up to Christmas this year. All these years I have ignored it, I have never really noticed what was going on. Now I am noticing the pretty lights, the traditions, the good humour and the cards people send, all brightening up what is otherwise a dark, wet, cold and very miserable time of year.
Of course the season is called “Christmas” because it is now a Christian feast to celebrate the birth of Christ, but research tells me that Christians actually borrowed the festival and most ancient cultures always had a mid winter festival and feast long before Jesus was born, after the winter solstice which is the darkest day of the year.
As, according to the last census, most people in the UK are not practising Christians, Christmas must have a different meaning than just celebrating the birth of Christ.
Of course since the 20th century, Christmas is very commercialised. Evenwhere you turn, it would seem, from the middle of November you are being bombarded, reminded and encouraged to spend your money. This of course helps the economy and keeps people in work. But the resultant pressure to conform to all the Christmas traditions of making a feast, and giving presents to people, often that you don’t know and often with money you did not have , that made me opt out.
As a non Christian, Christmas does not have any religious significance. But I loved the lighting up of a very dark miserable world with all the lights that decorate houses. I loved to hear the brass bands playing carols , that remind me of the band my dad and brother used to play in. Brass bands always bring a tear to my eye.
I enjoyed seeing my friends and family and of course I enjoy having a feast.
My personal theory is that we should all hibernate till February at least and the feast is a way of stocking up on food till then. ( I always find it very difficult to get up on dark mornings in winter.) Seeing family and friends is a kind of “goodbye” till we wake up again in the spring.
But maybe the real meaning of Christmas is just to remind us to be nice to each other while we can,
I try to have at least one meal out with my friends We can never all get together on one day due to shift work commitments, so I usually end up having several Christmas lunches. Michael has started to copy this tradition with his friends and is currently having his third get together with old school friends.
I recent years, Christmas has become really exciting with the arrival of my nine grandchildren. The nativity plays never fail to bring a tear to my eye and seeing them at school last week has had a special poignancy after the tragic events in Newtown Connetcut.
Their belief in Father Christmas is magical to watch and join in. They are getting up to seven and eight now, so there will not be much magic for long but I was sent this on facebook explaining about Santa and I thought it was so apt, I am reproducing it here