Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Happy Solstice

For this, my last blog post prior to the holiday, I continue my holiday tradition of bringing you something completely different.

For the past few years I have been pushing––albeit not that hard since I'm a day late––to have the Winter Solstice declared a national holiday. Just think, this calendar event that falls within days of Christmas, Hanukah, and Kwanzaa, could finally put an end to the holiday wars. No need to worry whether retail workers should wish you a Merry Christmas or a Happy Holiday. No letters to the editor about creches on courthouse lawns or whether the addition of a menorah makes it okay. No worrying whether companies can throw an annual Christmas party. No pressuring schools about what songs kids can sing at holiday concerts or what decorations they can hang in the halls. All decorations and songs would be limited to those that deal with winter like snowflakes and Jingle Bells and, yes, trees that despite all the hoopla is not really a Christian symbol, with some new Solstice songs thrown in.

Those determined to celebrate a religious holiday have nothing to fear. There is no reason to end Christmas or Hanukah or any other holiday, religious or non, falling around this time. It's just that the national holiday, the one everyone would celebrate––religious or non-religious–-Christian or Jew––would be the Solstice.

No doubt certain fundamentalist types would go all ballistic about replacing good Christian holidays with a pagan holiday. Thing is, historically, it's the other way round. Long before it was given a name, humans recognized Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Everyone from the Norsemen to the Romans had some kind of celebration involving light, warmth, and greenery around the longest night of the year. There is no reason to believe Jesus was born in December let alone a way to pinpoint December 25 as his birthday. Like our Founding Fathers here in the US who attempted to discourage all celebrations linked to Merry Old England, Christians found it impossible to suppress the celebration of festivals like Saturnalia. So they gave it a Christian meaning.

That isn't to diminish the solemnity of the Christian holiday in its symbolism. However, much of what we engage in as celebration of that day––eating, drinking, spending lots of money, not to mention the assumption that snow somehow adds perfection––has little to do with the birth of the baby Jesus and much to do with ancient Solstice celebrations. My Jewish friends also tell me that Hanukah is actually a lesser holiday on the Jewish calendar, often blown out of proportion as a way to celebrate at the same time of year as everyone else.

So why do we continue to fight it? Why not just make December 21 our national holiday that we celebrate together, giving gifts and making merry, and return to the other holidays the religious significance they deserve?

In the Spirit of the Season,
Happy Solstice to all,
and to all,
a long night.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love the idea! Happy holidays, Nannette!


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