In today's world, most people celebrate Christmas not aware of its origins and true meaning.
Of course, Christmas is rightfully meant to be a time of joy, typically shared with those you care about and love. But it's also interesting to reflect on some of the history of Christmas too...
Written by several years ago by Don Tolman, this article is not intended to judge any particular religion - it's simply food for thought that may add a little extra context and meaning to this special day...
When you gather around the Christmas tree, stuff goodies into stockings, or rip open presents, you're taking part in traditions of the "Pagans" (Garden Keepers and Healers) that stretch back thousands of years.
The choice of December 25th for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, was "to Christian-ise" the Pagans' festival (celebrating the year end harvest).
In the northern hemisphere, the growing seasons were over. Winter was now coming and the sun was die-ing in other words, the daylight hours were becoming less and less.
Then, on the Lunar calendar the Solstice was the shortest day of the year, then they celebrated for the next 12 days the, “Rebirth of the Sun" as the daylight hours were getting longer.
Christmas Day itself, plus the 12 days of the 'Christmas season', add up to 13, the Pagans' most sacred number. However it's interesting to note that certain religions decided to discard the number 13, even though there are Jesus and the 12 sons of Jacob (13), Moses and the 12 tribes of Israel (13) and so on.
Christmas was a festival embraced by and then inaugurated by the Roman emperor, "Aurelian", to celebrate the Sun, God and celebrated at the winter solstice on December 25th, in the 13 "Moon-th" (month). This was the calendar created by the Pagan "gardeners" and "whole food healers".
Then during the reign of emperor Constantine, who created the Roman Catholic Church, assimilated this feast of the Pagan’s and healers as the birthday of Jesus, associating him with the "sun of righteousness” (right-use-ness).
It was a custom of the Pagans to celebrate on December 25th, the birthday of the Sun, at which they kindled lights in token of festivity.
Christmas during the Middle Ages was a public festival that incorporated the Pagan's Ivy, Holly, Mistletoe and other Evergreens.
Christmas gift-giving during the Middle Ages was usually between people with legal relationships, such as tenant and landlord.
The Pagan's annual indulgence in eating, dancing, singing, sporting, orgies and card playing were hated by religion who wanted control of the people.
Sadly, they taught that the Pagans were evil, stupid and worthless and even that their God wanted them dead.
That's why most wars and mass murders tend to have a religious agenda.
Pagan or "non-Christian" traditions, show up in this beloved winter holiday, a consequence of early church leaders melding Jesus' nativity celebration with pre-existing midwinter festivals.
Since then, Christmas traditions have warped over time, arriving at their current state a little more than a century ago.
We all want that warm Christmas glow.
But why this fixation on partying in midwinter, in the northern hemisphere anyway?
It's a natural time for a feast.
In an agricultural (pagan) society, the harvest work is done for the year, and there's nothing left to be done in the fields.
It's a time when you have some time to devote to celebrating your life, but also it's a period when, frankly, everyone needs cheering up.
The dark days that culminate with the shortest day of the year — the winter solstice — could be lightened with feasts and decorations.
If you happen to live in a region in which midwinter brings striking darkness and cold and hunger, then the urge to have a celebration at the very heart of it to avoid going mad or falling into deep depression is very, very strong.
Even now when solstice means not all that much because you can get rid of the darkness with the flick of an electric light switch, it's still a very powerful season.
Hanukkah is the Jewish Festival of Lights and it remembers the rededication of the second Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.
This happened in the 160s BC (before Jesus was born). (Hanukkah is the Jewish word for 'dedication'.) Hanukkah lasts for eight days and starts on the 25th of Kislev, the month in the Jewish calendar that occurs at about the same time as December.
Because the Jewish calendar is lunar (it uses the moon for its dates), Kislev can happen from late November to late December, (the ancient Pagan wisdom and genius).
In 2015, Hanukkah was from in the evening of Sunday, 6th December until the evening of Monday, 14th December.
In 2016, Hanukkah will be from in the evening of Saturday, December 24th until the evening of Sunday, January 1st, 2017.
During Hanukkah, on each of the eight nights, a candle is lit in a special menorah (candelabra) called a 'hanukkiyah'.
Hanukkah is also a time for giving and receiving presents and gifts are often given on each night.
Lots of games are played during the time of Hanukkah.
The most popular is 'dreidel' (Yiddish) or 'sivivon' (Hebrew). It's a four sided top with a Hebrew letter on each side.
The four letter are the first letter of the phrase 'Nes Gadol Hayah Sham' which means 'A great miracle happened there' (in Israel, 'there' is changed to 'here' so it's 'Nes Gadol Hayah Po').
Player put a coin, nut or chocolate coin in a pot and the top is spun. In the letter 'nun' (נ) come up nothing happens, if it's 'gimel' (ג) the player wins the pot, if it's 'hay' (ה) you win half the pot and if it's 'shin' (for 'there' ש) or 'pe' (for 'here' פ) you have to put another item into the pot and the next person has a spin!
This pagan celebration was to help everyone find Solace during the winter and dark season, the Sun or brightest light that lights all of the 13 planets delivers this.
The 13 planets were and are: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Haumea, MakeMake, Eris.
These show up at different Angles in the sky during the 4 seasons later these angles and the energy of the seasons they appear in were called Angels by religion.
The phases and Angles of the Moon and Sun affect us here on this Earth.
Sol was an ancient name of the Sun.
If something eases your disappointment or grief, consider it a solace (sol-ace).
In other words, if you're sad, you might find solace in music or in talking to your friends.
It is no surprise that consolation (con-sol-ation) and solace are similar in meaning as they share a root in the Latin verb sōlārī "to comfort."
In fact, solace and consolation are synonyms meaning relief from grief or disappointment.
When you go to summer camp or sleep-away camp, your parents will miss you, but they'll find solace in knowing that you are having fun.
These Ancient celebrations in each of the 4 seasons were sacred (Energy Healing) and powerful for people to find comfort from sorrow, grief, depression, misfortune, trouble, distress, discomfort, and dis-ease's.
During the dark cold season the pagan "Dies Natalis Solis Invicti” helped people to overcome depression, sadness and suicidal thoughts.
The Festival of Lights, used the Sun, Moon, Candles, Fire-side chats, play, gratitude, giving and en-Light-enment.
Con-sol-e means to cheer the heart, happy, joy, de-light-ed, de-light-ful, pleased, glad, fruitful, fortunate, lucky, etc.
Today, people especially children, are finding that 'gadget Happy devices' are taking Christmas to a whole new level.
One final thing...
Always pay attention to the phrases spoken and sung during the festive season.
Here’s a few for what most call Christmas: "Tis’ the Season to be Jolly”… "Eat, Drink and be Merry”… “Peace on Earth and Joy to all”…”Hope, Wonder, Joy and a Happy New Year”
From 'Cowboy' Don Tolman and all of us at Tolman Self Care, we wish you a very merry Christmas and a festive season filled with love, laughter and wholesome celebrations.
Tolman Self Care.