Saturday, December 27, 2008

What day is it anyway?

Time has been in a blender lately, ...and the world is upside-down. At every turn, there is some new critical to-do thing to take care of. My list of to-dos keeps growing instead of getting shorter. With the holidays, and the hubby off work (you can do that when you are the boss), and my Mom living here with us now, my alone time is limited to early morning hours when no-one else is awake. It is the only time I get to play on the computer now. I am counting on some balance here soon, so I can get back to what feels normal for me. Alone time. (thinking of this wistfully...) This is my time for regenerating, new ideas, creative thinking and giving in to somewhat selfish desires. Whether it is watching a few minutes of some TV program focused on cleaning and organizing a trashed house (I watch to assure myself I am NOT that bad!), or browsing for inspiration for a new knitting project, meditating, or getting out of the house altogether, I adore my alone time. I am addicted to it, keeps me going. Knitting has been really off lately too. Some old Christmas stockings were discovered in an attic box by a daughter-in-law, and since there were mine and one for my mother, I had to do one for my sweet hubby. Digging into the stash, I pulled out the old ends left from stockings past, and started out. I have done several version of the old Bucilla patterns, which I have saved. This one is Santa coming or going from a chimney by the light of a crescent moon. I struggled with the entire awful thing! I am now a yarn snob, and that nasty acrylic was a nightmare to work with. It was so stiff and had no elasticity. Combined with my tight tension, the patterning of the changing yarns ended up creating a sculpted Santa. There was no way I was re-knitting anything! My wrists and hands are still complaining. Now, I am working on a pair of socks for the hubby. For months now he has been asking when I was going to make him something. The socks were a Christmas gift. I have jokingly told him they may be done by next Christmas.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Celebrating the Solstice

I am now preparing for a Yule celebration. I grew up celebrating Christmas, but its really hard to get my extended family together. This is because my three grown and married sons, and their wives, all have divorced parents who have remarried. That means there are eight parental families that these young people feel duty bound to divide their time and efforts to. Christmas Day and Eve are in high demand. Nobody else in the family has even considered the Solstice but me! Happy Day! They probably never will either, as I live deep in the "Bible Belt."

If you are celebrating any of the traditions of Christmas, remember that you are actually enjoying the rituals and activities of several ancient religions whose traditions have been borrowed by Christians over the years for the celebration of the birth of Christ. Winter Solstice has been celebrated in cultures the world over for thousands of years. This start of the solar year is a celebration of Light and the rebirth of the Sun. In old Europe, it was known as Yule, from the Norse, Jul, meaning wheel. The winter solstice marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year. The sun appears at its lowest point in the sky, and its noontime elevation appears to be the same for several days before and after the solstice. Hence the origin of the word solstice, which comes from Latin solstitium, from sol, “sun” and -stitium, “a stoppage.” Following the winter solstice, the days begin to grow longer and the nights shorter.

Long before Christ was born, Romans held the celebration of Saturnalia, however, this probably predates even Roman history. In ancient Rome, Emperor Aurelian established December 25 as the birthday of the "Invincible Sun" in the third century as part of the Roman Winter Solstice celebrations. Shortly thereafter, in the year 273, the Christian church selected this day to represent the birthday of Jesus. The early Christian church had gotten tired of unsuccessful efforts to stop people celebrating the solstice and the birthday of the sun god. So the pope at the time decided to make Jesus’ official birthday coincide with the other. No one knows what time of year Jesus was actually born but there is evidence to suggest that it was in midsummer.

This year I am designing a scavenger hunt for my grandson, that will educate him (and the rest of the family) to the history and rich traditions of the season that countries all over the world have contributed to. The symbols we love and use every season are rooted deeply in spiritual tradition.. The Yule log, "Christmas" Tree, holly, ivy, gifting, Wassail, feasting, fires and candle lighting, wreaths, mistletoe, singing, worshiping, etc., go back into antiquity, and all represent abundance, good fortune, love, peace, continuity of life, prosperity, and more. As each clue is followed, a brief description of each symbol will be read and a few "olde" carols will be sung by all.