A friend recently mentioned Jesus as “the reason for the season;” but these days, I see December in a whole new light.
Yes, Christmas is obviously the most widely observed, celebrated and marketed holiday of the month. But as a yogini who thrives on the concept of unity, I choose to set my sights on the cross-cultural, inter-faith, in-common presence of light.
Naturally Winter’s days have become shorter and shorter, the sun lower and lower, the clouds denser and denser, the indoor hours longer and longer.
Yet despite this thickening darkness, December continues a ritualistic season of light that began in late Autumn with Diwali – India’s festival of glowing lamps and the celebration of good’s triumph over evil. I’m guessing there are infinite Winter holy day rituals that involve some sort of spark. In these weeks leading up to Christmas, some have been observing Advent by lighting a candle daily. This week, the eight days of Chanukah begin, observing yet another victory of light over dark. And, Solstice arrives, representing the shortest, darkest day of the year…while also signaling the lengthening of days and leaning toward Spring.
So within this season of darkness, we are surrounded by light or the promise thereof.
Although I was raised Jewish, my mom and I held an annual tradition of driving around our city each Christmas eve, enjoying the holiday decorations. Even my dad, who now lives in the Bible Belt, acts like a thrilled little kid when he sees the amazing displays in his neighborhood. Personally, I’ve grown to love the super-wild, twinkling, flashing, moving lights – I am always inspired by their spirit.
In my own home, I light more lamps during the day, I burn more candles at night and I try to keep it fairly warm and cozy so my inner light also glows. Plus, who can ignore the cheery brightness of people excited by the holiday season? Even though the stress of shopping and running and partying can make our inner light burn out at times!
So perhaps the reason that this season became so popular is indeed the observance of Christmas. Still, without diminishing the unique importance of each Winter holiday, I like to dwell on this abundantly light-filled, unifying aspect of the season and its many holy days. And so I wish you…
Happy Holidays, everyone! OM Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.