I come from a religiously mixed house hold. My Mom was a Unitarian and my Dad was Jew. I did not get much in the way of “religion” from either of my folks, but I did get to experience a variety of holiday traditions. We would light the Hanukkah candles and get a Christmas tree. The holidays were about family, and food, and gifts, and lots of lights. I never really found much meaning in the celebration. It was just something that we did.
I never really identified with Christmas or Hanukkah. Neither one felt like “my thing”. Then I discovered Yule and the holidays became more meaningful to me. Yule is the celebration of the Winter Solstice, which is the longest night of the year. I love this description of Yule that I found in a blog called “Witchery”.
“Yule is the time of greatest darkness, but soon the dark will give way to light. The cycle of life seems to be suspended while the Dark King (the old year) is transformed into the Infant Light (the new year). We watch for the coming dawn, when the Great Mother again gives birth to the Divine Child Sun who brings hope and the promise of continuing life. As the Wheel of the Year makes its final turn toward the light, we call forth the sun from the dark womb of night.”
The meaning of Yule resonates deeply with me. I can identify with its symbolism. Now it there was a reason for putting up a tree and hanging lights on it. Hanging mistletoe made sense to me now. Matter of fact, Most of the symbolism from our modern holiday traditions is based on the Pagan traditions that this celebration comes from. The evergreen tree, the holly, the lights, the mistletoe, caroling, Santa Claus all can be traced back to different Pagan cultures celebrating the same thing; the return of the Sun, the light, hope and spiritual renewal.
It all just feels good and allows me to participate in a holiday celebration that is meaningful and fun to celebrate with my community.
What makes your holidays meaningful to you?