Happy Holy Day Sale
Another HAPPY HOLY-DAY to All of You! People often wonder what holiday (or holy-day) I celebrate in December. The answer is … most of them!
Many of my clients are Jewish and I love candleLight, so I love the idea of a festival of Light … not really the reason behind the festival, but the idea of family and lighting candles together.* The big celebration for me is Solstice. The beautiful Solstice tree,** an altar and ritual honoring the four directions, singing, blessing others with gifts … these are celebrations passed down for eons from many different traditions. Then there is Christmas Day, a ritual celebrated by my family. So it is the day we exchange gifts.
 
As I was preparing to lead two different Solstice celebrations this year (for both an in-person class and an online class I lead), I went deeper than ever before into various traditions and the origins of the various rituals and symbols used at Christmastime.

Lots of people have heard about the Roman celebration of Saturnalia that many believe to be the festival Christmas was intended to replace. Bible historians are confident that Jesus wasn’t born in December. And many of the symbols and rituals used today were part of the Saturnalia celebration. Yule (or Juul) from Scandinavia also contain rituals and traditions shared this time of year. Indigenous cultures from around the globe all have their special celebrations for Solstice. 

Something I had not heard of before, that I discovered in my digging, is the celebration of  Yalda. Also known as Sheb-e Chelleh is an Iranian festival also celebrated in central Asia. It means birth. It has been celebrated for thousands of years back to the birth of Mithra, the God of Light, in the Zoroastrian religion. In ancient times they decorated an evergreen tree and hung their wishes in silk cloths hung from the tree. In Iran they stay up all night until the sun rises again, typically reading Hafez and other Persian poets. They snack on dry fruits and nuts, watermelons and pomegranates, and have rice and Fesenjan (a chicken stew).
The Magi (3 wise men of the bible story about Christmas) were well-known astrologers who saw a bright newborn star and predicted the birth of Christ. They were disciples of Zoroaster.

 
* Being as sensitive to all energies (both beneficial and detrimental) as I am, I would never pollute my environment with smoke and fumes of paraffin wax (not only toxic, but proven to be carcinogenic). I only use beeswax candles or fake rechargeable battery powered ones.
 
** Trees are sacred beings. I often cry when they are cut or severely pruned. We either go with a live tree that will later be planted or an artificial tree. My current artificial tree is a beautiful imitation blue spruce. I love it so much that after Christmas one year, I literally had it up in my bedroom for a few months. Seeing it, as seeing any blue spruce, always makes me smile.
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