Arx Hereticus

Welcome to the ramblings of a merry heretic, an ex-pat (Tex-pat?) American living in Maryland after having spent six years in Germany. Arx Hereticus is part travelogue, part cooking, part budo, part socio-political commentary and mostly just me BSing.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Ever since humankind could record and understand the progression of the years, we've celebrated the changes of the seasons.

In the spring, we planted and prepared and celebrated the fertility of the land. In the fall, we harvested and celebrated the bounty we'd earned through hard work.

And in the winter, when the sun seemed to be fading, when the winds howled and superstitions told us that the wolves were at the door, we huddled and waited, and then, on the shortest day of the year, when the sun began to return, we celebrated the return of the light.

Almost every culture and civilization has celebrated the seasons, and mid-winter celebrations of one sort or another feature prominently in every major religion, every culture, every people on the planet.

In the East, the Japanese held that their goddess of the sun, Amaterasu hid in a cave and was lured out in mid-winter.

In the West, the ancient Celts celebrated the Winter Solstice, and raised Stonehenge and Newgrange to mark the passing of the seasons.

The ancient Romans held Saturnalia festivals and honored Sol Invictus in December, and the Zuni and Hopi celebrated Soyal in their kivas.

Modern Christians revere the birth of Christ in mid-winter; those of the Jewish faith celebrate Hanukah - a festival of lights; Muslims observe Ashura and the Islamic New year in mid to late December.

No matter what you celebrate this season, whether it be Yule or Hogmany, Ashura or Hanukah, Lenaia or Sanghamitta, Christmas or the Winter Solstice, I wish you health and prosperity, love and joy, and for us all, peace in the world and hope in our hearts ...