Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Festivals of Light

The older I’ve become, the more I have learned to appreciate each season.  Simple observations of nature reveal the cycles by which humanity was meant to live, and I feel grounded and peaceful when I align myself with each of them.

Following the energetic peak of summer, the energy of the seasons begins to move back downward toward the earth.  While summer is a time when plants are in full bloom and people active outdoors, the late summer is a time when energy begins to subside as we approach the cooler months ahead.

In the Autumn, the downward, gathering nature of the season becomes apparent.  It is a time of harvest festivals, where we gather up and celebrate the year’s bounty.  The leaves on the ground are gathered into piles, and we gather with our families to celebrate Thanksgiving with a nourishing feast.

This condensing trend reaches a peak during the Winter - the coldest and darkest time of year.  Naturally in the winter we become attracted to warmth and light, and seek out emotional and spiritual warmth by coming together with family and friends.  Hearty, slow-cooked meals of soups, stews and root vegetables help us to keep warm and acclimate to the prevailing weather.  Around the time of the winter solstice - the shortest day of the year - the traditions of the season are expressed through various festivals of light.

Of these Autumn and Winter festivals, which include Hanukkah and Diwali, Christmas is the most famous.  It is a time when people gather around the fireplace, sing heart-warming carols, and make cozy their home with holiday decorations.  A lit and decorated Christmas Tree is the most recognizable symbol of the holiday, and Christmas lights adorn our homes.

Many of these traditions date back to pre-Christian times.  In Northern Europe, a yule log was brought into the house and burned to provide warmth and light during the solstice, and the evergreen holly and mistletoe plants were brought inside to celebrate life in a time when many plants were leafless and dormant.

Living in accordance with the seasons helps to keep us in balance with nature, and contributes to health and wellness in our daily lives.  When we observe the holidays, and are in tune with the seasons, we may live more orderly and balanced lives, and experience health and happiness as a result.  We can find greater meaning in our lives this way, and come to understand our place in nature.  So keep your traditions alive - and Merry Christmas!

1 comment:

  1. Happy holidays, to you. The festival of lights seems to be a fairly universal, human expression.