Let’s Celebrate the Holiday Shopping Season by Barbara Ardinger

We’ve recently celebrated Thanksgiving, when I hope that, like me, you gave thanks to the deity of your choice for the wise and thoughty blogs we’ve been reading on this site. Now we’re well into the holiday season, which seems (at least in the malls) to start earlier every year. No matter what you call the December holiday, its origin lies in the winter solstice, which is the tipping point of the year’s dark season. The solar gods—Adonis, Amon-Ra, Apollo, Attis, Baal, Horus, Jesus the Christ, Lugh, Marduk, Mithra, Shamash, Sol Invictus, and the rest—are born or reborn now. These are the gods who live for a season or a year in great honor, after which they’re sacrificed, spend a season underground, and are then reborn. This happens every year at the winter solstice. (Just so you know: if Jesus was a real man, he was probably born in the spring or fall between 7 and 4 B.C.E. In 354 C.E., Bishop Liberius of Rome moved his official birth date to December 25 to match the birth date of the popular Roman god Mithra.)

Also born and reborn at the winter solstice is the light itself, the solar light and the temple light, too. We can think of the reborn light as literal light—a lamp in a temple that burns for eight days when it has fuel for only one—or metaphorical light, that is, learning, wisdom, and generosity. Hanukkah (which usually comes in December but which coincided with Thanksgiving this year) embraces both literal and metaphorical light. Continue reading “Let’s Celebrate the Holiday Shopping Season by Barbara Ardinger”

Happy Birthday, Solar Gods By Barbara Ardinger

Throughout history and all around the world, people have celebrated midwinter and the rebirth of the sun. My favorite night of the solstice-Hanukah-Christmas season is December 24, Modranicht. If we have Mother’s Day in the springtime, it seems only fair that we should celebrate Mother’s Night in the winter. We get the term Mothers’ Night from the English monk, Bede, who said that the Angles began their year on the night of December 24–25.

The winter solstice this year falls on December 21, though it can also occur on December 22 and December 23. The word “solstice” means “sun stand still.” No, it’s not Joshua’s long day again. On the solstice, the sun rises from the same point on the horizon for a couple days (this is the standing still), is at its lowest point in the sky at noon, and (in the Northern Hemisphere) is at its southernmost point. It’s the longest night of the year, and when the sun is reborn, it moves across the sky for six months to the summer solstice, where it’s at its northernmost point.

Continue reading “Happy Birthday, Solar Gods By Barbara Ardinger”

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