A lot of people feel conflicted this time of year. Because the period from Thanksgiving through Christmas to New Year’s Day involves more traditional elements than other, the sights and sounds and scents and flavors evoke our pasts more than any other season. And depending on how you feel about the present, and on your inflated or deflated impressions of your past, I can see how people can feel conflicted and sometimes depressed!
Today, I’d like to offer a different view of the season - one based on our Seventh Principle – the one about the interconnected web of life. Most of us interpret that as referring to how we, as a species, interact with the rest of the natural world. But another interpretation is to consider how we, as a contemporary culture, connect to those cultures before us.(and after us). There is no better time of year to consider these connections than the Christmas season. Most of the practices we engage in today connect us to people 500, 2000, and even 4000 years ago. Looking at the season this way – as a window on long ago, shifts the focus away from our childhoods and ourselves to embrace a past much longer, deeper, and richer.
First, I’ll talk about those celebrations that derive from ancient agricultural festivals, then I’ll talk about Christmas Day itself, and finally, I’ll talk about how the Protestants tried to ban Christmas and who you have to thank for celebrating it at all!