The most magical time of the year is upon us, especially for those of us in the northern hemisphere where the coincides with the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year. So much of the symbolism of this season is based on Christmas being combined with major holiday in the northern hemisphere. There are several holidays, Yule/Solstice, Christmas, Hannukah that emphasize the light over coming the darkness.
In the northern hemisphere, that imagery merges nicely with the longest night of the year, the greatest darkness. I wonder how the celebration might have been different had the Church not tried to preempt the ancient holiday. Ever since, there has been a mingling of traditions. But a common theme is the coming of the light, the return of the light, light overcoming the darkness.
It has been an education for me this year to have friends in the southern hemisphere so that I am aware that a lot of the symbolism attached to the season doesn’t work as well there. At this time of year, they are having the longest days of the year, not the shortest nights. It is warm and even hot. And many of my friends there have never seen snow, let alone a “white Christmas.”
But wherever we live, we all experience the darkness of ignorance, selfishness, cruelty. We all know all too well the need for a return of the light. It is important for all of us to let our light shine in the darkness until a new day truly dawns.