Tis the season of goodwill. Here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas. May there be peace in the world. It’s time to capture the spirit of Christmas and spread it far and wide. We do it every year but it’s no less important every time we do it. It’s a great big manifestation of hope. A way to end the year in a mood of good humour, joy, and optimism.
In this case talking about double entendre is way short of the mark. The word “sprit” has a whole host of contemporary meanings. It’s an extensive list. Here, I’m trying to capture some essence of what has been passed down for generations. It’s how we cheer ourselves up knowing that the hardships of winter are a passing phase. Christmas may have its origins in seasonal habits that run through the whole of human history.
Like it or not, the Christmas we know has come down from Roman times. Although, it might be better to say that a recognisable celebration is traceable back to the ninth century in England. That reason for festivities unites all Europeans. It’s part of our common heritage and social fabric.
However, as I drive west, down the A303 and pass Stonehenge it’s not Christian Christmas I might think of as much as the Winter Solstice. That is as we move from seeing less of the Sun day-by-day to a gradual lengthening of the days. Ironically, this is known as the first day of winter in the northern hemisphere.
The coming 31 days of January maybe the least loved of the months of the year, but the prospect is that winter will be finite. We can honour its passing before it has passed. Lengthening hours of sunlight will change our mood and slowly raise our spirits.
Isn’t hope wonderful? What shame human affairs don’t have such a seasonal clockwork mechanism at their core. Or maybe they do, in the way that Christmas and the calendar synchronises us with the rhythm and routine of the heavens.
For me the next celestial marker is the Vernal Equinox as it ushers in Spring. I don’t know if having a birthday just before the onset of Spring symbolises any mystical significance, but I like it. So, celebrate and enjoy the seasonal spirit. Christmas comes but once a year. Let’s hope this one brings some good cheer.