There is stillness in the world and there is stillness in the mind. They echo each other. The observer and the observed.
We complain about the modern Christmas being commercialized, but our ancestors did a lot of fortune seeking at that time of year even before the age of super malls and trendy stores. There was also a running debate regarding praying to angels, and this is part of why angels are a related image in Christmas. They were seen as household guardian aspects of divinity. Gifts were not only given to living loved ones, but were also offered at gravesites and in natural springs. Any place considered to have a link to the underworld.
The Yule log was a gift to the sun. Food having a lot of meaning during the winter season, and many of the holidays have a symbolic link to food. Like crop harvesting with Kwanzaa, or Christmas ham I believe it is in Wales. The boar was considered very spirited and strong. To consume it on Christmas was considered to bode well.
As Catholicism spread, their association of saints with ancestral divinities, and even local gods, became quite common. This is where the saints get their reputed powers, including Saint Nicolas. To preserve their symbolic link and sense of place in the culture they were grafted onto. I respect Christ’s message of peace and love, and the sacrifice that made him stay in human memory, but the Catholic church hijacked the pagan festivals to give them validation and force the pagans to celebrate Catholic religion. Also an interesting point, the magi were the priests, kings of Persia, and skilled astrologers among other things. It‘s interesting later that Rome would subjugate and throw down the kingdoms of the tree wise men.
Not very charitable and the principle of charity was especially acknowledged at this time of year. There have even been anthropological studies of the force of charity on cultures that show it versus those who withhold it more. Though force was also avidly used, the practice of charity was most evident in the ancient empires. It might have had something to do with their ability to both conquer and to have diplomatic relations with other nations.
What do you mean by the force of charity? We have an instinct, and it has even been observed in other simian species, that conflict can be settled by sharing. An animal sense of equity serving the family unit. The chimps in question even sign complaints when humans interfered. Also, though it has been shown that dolphins are aware that humans are not their species, they show powers of observation and a movement toward empathy. Even preserving humans from drowning. They are more observant than the average human, and can tell by the eyes and also tell by the heart beat. Their sonar lets them feel your heart even at a distance. Animals often give to us, but even dolphins aren’t immune to a dark side. They can be moved to wrath, but it isn’t from ego that they ever lash out.
I see many people totally stressed at the pressure of having to produce gifts for everyone they know at Christmas. Yes, but remember favours are as much gifts as material items. Another aspect of the season seems to be well expressed by a Native American concept. When they seek any blessing they seek it for themselves and all their relations. So in whatever aspect you feel kinship, a remembrance of all your kin seems a very appropriate observation of this time of year does it not?
If you revere nothing else in this holiday, is not the spirit of giving worth respect? It is my personal conviction that there is a spirit underneath all of the world observances, and despite the mode of expression the right intent makes any giving simply a receiving. A chance to connect with that spirit that perhaps we are all holding sacred with one face or another. I myself prefer my own experience over any tradition or religion or other form of dogma, but even tradition can serve as an aid for contacting that spirit that we revere this time of year.
Peace on earth, good will to humanity, and all their relations.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.