I love this time of the year. I reroute my morning drive to pass by the courthouse every morning after Thanksgiving to look at my towns giant Christmas tree. I love it! It fills my heart with hope and joy for the season and love of all people celebrating. I grew up in a home when every year there was a debate about the Christmas tree. We celebrated but my family is Jewish. Every year it was a sore spot… One year my dad cut down this tall and skinny Italian Juiper from the side of our house, propped it up in the corner, and we put red ball on it. Several years we had this white flocked aluminum tree with blue balls (our Hanukkah bush). Some years we went to Hughes market and bought the most beautiful Nobel fir… I am not sure how it was decided each year, but it was always something my sister and I hoped for – a real Christmas tree.
I love celebrating Christmas. I love the magic and excitement. I love the food and having family and friends gather together in hope and joy. I even love singing Christmas carols! You do not need to be Christian to celebrate and enjoy traditions that go with this time of the year. Since I have been married there has never been a year that we don’t put up our own Christmas tree. We also carry on the tradition of my mother-in-law and have an open house Christmas Eve. Did I say how much I love Christmas?
Having a decorated tree indoors at this time of year really has nothing to do with Jesus… It is actually a pagan ritual to celebrate the winter solstice and hope for new life in the coming spring (hence the ‘traditional’ decoration of red balls that were once apples). Lights on the trees represented the hope for the sun to return to its summer strength. Even the ancient Egyptians would bring trees into their homes at this time of year… Palm trees! Gift giving was a tradition with ancient Greeks and Romans and candles (lights) would honor their God of the sun.
So when we talk about the reason for the season… We can all agree that there is not just one reason… When you look around your house know that the traditions you may cherish come from diverse and ancient cultures long before Christians embrased them as their own. Seasons greetings, happy Winter Solstice and Happy Holidays!