So many celebrations toward the end of the year – August saw the Muslim Eid;
November saw Hindu Deepavali and Jewish Hannukah;
December sees the beginning of Kwanzaa, a festival celebrated in the US by Americans of African descent , and a relatively recent celebration although the irony is that most Africans are Christian and Kwanzaa is probably not celebrated much in Africa;
and of course, the Christian Christmas which has also become a secular celebration –
and then in the New Year, the Buddhist and later, the Chinese New Years.
All are part of the rich tapestry of celebration, some religious, some not and all sourced in our pagan past and drawn from times before many of the major religions appeared.
They all represent the desire and capacity of human nature to express in symbolic terms, our connection, to each other, to this world and to the ineffable.
Out of all the celebrations, Christmas has become the only one which has manifested in secular as well as religious form and has found a place in cultures around the world, no matter what religion people may practise.
It is a common bond whatever one’s religion or lack of religion and the image of Santa Claus, also drawn from pagan belief, can be seen around the world – symbolising giving and good times.
For all those who decry the secular Christmas I would only say that where you can have people of all faiths, Christian, Moslem, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist or whatever, – or no faith at all – coming together in a celebration which can speak to all and is particular to none, then we have a powerful bond of love, connection, caring and good times. When you hear Christmas carols and see Christmas Trees and Father Christmas in Delhi, Dubai, Dublin, Damascus, Darwin, Denpasar, Denver, Derby, Dar as Salaam, Dunedin, Dusseldorf and Dwangwa you know that we have more in common than we might imagine.
Merry Christmas is a phrase which draws us all together in ways never dreamt of in times past. It is also a reminder that, as Jung said, symbol is the lost language of the soul and the symbols we can share reveal how much alike we are, even as we may believe there is much which keeps us apart.
It is the season to be merry and to rejoice in each other and the gift of giving.
Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noel, to everyone.