Long-time followers of the blog will recall my post from last year about why I really like the holidays so much.
Rather than regurgitate my reconciliation of my atheism with a not-so-secular holiday, I thought I’d share a simple thought today (Christmas Eve for many).
Lots of billboards debate the reason for the season. Some atheist groups like to point out that Jesus is a myth, which is a reasonable point. Some Christian groups like to hammer home that Jesus is the reason. I never understood what makes the birth of a baby in a stable a compelling story unless you 100% accept the virgin birth, which I think is a stretch for most believers. (That’s besides the fact that if Jesus was born, he most definitely was not born in December.) Jews, meanwhile, already celebrated that there was enough oil to burn for eight days instead of one—not as miraculous as the virgin birth of a god, but at least a bit more original (or did Osiris have long-burning candles, too?).
None of those stories really matter, though. See, way back in 46 BCE, Caesar figured out that December 25 was the Winter Solstice, the day when the Earth’s tilt is farthest way from the sun and thus it is the shortest day and longest night of the year. The calendar was off though, and the date started shifting to earlier in the year. Pope Gregory XIII standardized it in 1582, but screwed up and restored the date to December 22. (Maybe he didn’t want all his loyal followers in the Holy Roman Empire to be suspicious about Jesus just happening to be born on a day already celebrated by many Pagans.)
But that’s why we have holidays around this time. It’s dark.
So we need to light it up and warm it up (though admittedly, the wintry association with this time of year is biased to the Northern Hemisphere).
We need pretty lights and warm food and stirring music and good company. We need to make each other smile and show each other how much we love each other and exchange presents as tokens of that love.
And that’s it. That’s all it’s about. That’s all that’s important.
No myths or legends necessary! Just the intention to warm the hearts of your loved ones. We all owe ourselves and each other to do so at least once a year, and what better night than (almost) the longest of the year?
So whatever you do this holiday season, enjoy it. Do what it takes to make it really feel like the holiday season and not just the dark one. Celebrate that which makes us all human: love.
Season’s Greetings from ZackFord Blogs!