Winter Holidays

Wow, so I’m kicking off the Colorado M/M writers winter holiday blog hop…Not sure I’m up for the pressure. Over the next few days, be sure to check in with the home website for the M/M writers and stop by the various blogs. oicchristmasThere will be prizes at the end. How fun is that? Actually for those leaving a comment here on my blog during the blog hop, you’ll be entered for a chance to win an ebook copy of my urban fantasy, “Blood Moon, Yellow Sky.” This is good timing since the sequel, “Dark Stars of Dallas,” is coming out very soon.
So onto Winter Holidays. Where to start? I guess the beginning is a good place. It was a dark and stormy night—nope, wrong book. Actually it was a dark and cold night. The original winter holiday was the winter solstice, which the ancient Celts and Norse called Yule. It can be traced back to ancient Germanic practices and most of the rituals were incorporated into the beliefs surrounding Christmas when the Christians usurped the old pagan religions of the region. The solstice marks the longest night. Ironically, since the seasons are reversed when you cross the equator, while we celebrate winter pagan holidays in the northern hemisphere, the southern hemisphere celebrates summer pagan holidays. The non-Pagan holidays don’t follow the seasons, so for the Aussies, Christmas is warm and sunny with little chance of snow.
A good number of holidays happen around the winter solstice and most of them have some similarities as if they tried to fill a gap in time where their practitioners were afraid to be left out of everyone else’s celebrations. Although Christmas and Yule are the biggest ones now, there’s also Kwanza, celebrated by African Americans in North America. There’s also Bodhi, a Buddhist holiday, Yalda, a Middle Eastern celebration of the solstice that has an interesting correspondence to the birth of Jesus in Christian mythos, and let us not forget the Jewish festival of Hanukkah.
There are also tons of little, in comparison, days like Boxing Day celebrated in Britain and many of her colonies that originally started as a way to give to the less fortunate. There’s Holy Innocent’s day and a number of other saint’s days that either build up to or wrap up Christmas in the various Christian sects.
Around our house, we celebrate a blending of Yule and Christmas so we keep the various parts of the family happy since we’re a mixed household. Luckily a Christmas or Yule tree is a major common symbol so we make sure to decorate it prettily. So we don’t confuse the kids, we do presents on Christmas morning like all of their friends. We also do Yule logs, which are made from the previous spring’s Maypole, when we have a maypole. There are stockings hung with care because Santa Claus is but one of the many forms taken by the Holly King. We like hay rides since we don’t have access to a nice old-fashioned sleigh. I realize that this might not be the way it is for everyone, but this works for us.
This blog post has rambled, but when you take a good long look at our winter holidays, they have become a bit strange and rambling in their own ways. I fear we are rapidly losing the meanings of many, if not all, of the celebrations this time of year. The simple joy of knowing that the sun is reborn with the dawn after the longest night, and that the promise of spring is renewed (and this carries over in both spelling of sun/son) has been lost in all the rabid commercialism that gets worse each year. Being together with family through the darkest days has been lost to the idea of who bought me the best present.
We now fight over Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Since we celebrate two, I’m all in favor of Happy Holidays, since to us it’s more than just Christmas. But why do we even really care what other people are celebrating as long as they are celebrating? We live in a world that is in desperate need of true, happy celebrations. Not just getting presents, but giving of ourselves to other people. Years ago, the celebrations around the solstice were times that communities came together to see how people were getting along through the winter. It was a time of being a part of something bigger than ourselves.
We need to remember that and embrace the idea that we are not alone in the world. We hurry through our lives, often losing touch with friends and family as we go. No matter what holiday you celebrate this year, remember that these are celebrations meant to bring folks together. Stop standing out by yourself. Set old grievances aside and enjoy your family, whether they are by blood or by choice. Be happy. If my crazy family made up of Pagans and Christians, gay and straight, young and old can all come together, it’s possible for anyone to do so. Embrace your family. Don’t let another year go by, even if all you can afford is a phone call to let them know that you remember them. The world is trying it’s best to pull families apart these days. Use the holidays, no matter what you celebrate, as a reason to come back together.
So I started off talking about different holidays and end up getting a bit holiday mushy. Sorry about that. I get kinda soft this time of year. I know a lot of people feel lonely right now and there’s no need for that. We all have someone who wants to be with us through the longest night and embrace the birth of a new year. Brightest Blessings this holiday season, no matter who is giving those blessings.
Now since this blog hop is going on for several days, don’t forget to stop by the main site hosting the hop, Marie has done a great job getting things set up so you can visit the other sites with a different stop each day. Since I’m the start of things, there’s just the link for tomorrow’s blog. Tabatha Heart
Everyone go out and have a Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Cool Yule, Happy Kwanza, Happy Hanukkah, Blessed Bodhi, or whatever celebration you’re having, just go have fun and a happy time. And don’t forget to leave a comment below to register to win an ecopy of “Blood Moon, Yellow Sky” at the end of the blog hop.