So about this Christmas thing. Every ancient culture has a tradition of the midwinter feast, dating back long before Christianity and the formation of the religions we recognise and worship today.
Here in Europe, and those countries whose traditions were established by European settlers, the Christmas traditions are predominantly taken from the Germanic Yule (or “Jul” in scandinavia, one of Odin’s names). Most of the traditions we have today are in some way linked to ancient European pagans; the Angles, the Saxons, the blood ancestors of many of you reading this right now.
For instance the yule log, brought into the family or tribal home to be adorned as sacred then burned as vital fuel in the darkest and coldest part of the year has parallels with the Christmas tree which we all have today. Incidentally the Christmas tree was re-popularised in the modern United Kingdom by Prince Albert; a German.
The Pagan Midwinter would also involve the sacrifice of many livestock animals. The sacrifices had twofold purpose. Firstly as gifts to the gods, as an offering to request that the days become longer again, the frosts melt and warmth returns to the land. This is echoed in the gifts we give one another now at Christmas. The second purpose of the sacrifices was for feasting, which still continues today, although for some awful reason turkey replaces the tradition boar/beef/venison. Bring ‘em back I say!
Even Santa Clause has his roots in Norse Odin and the Celtic Green Man. Odin or Jolnir, as leader of the ghostly Wild Hunt charges all the woodland animals through the forests of the night. Those poor epic and wild animals have become Rudolf and his sanitised cohorts.
To get to my point - I’m not a historian. Much of what I’ve just written is wikipedia based opinions (disclaimer, and I'd be really interested to hear from any historians on the subject) but my point is this; you don’t have to be a Christian to celebrate Christmas. You don’t have to visit John Lewis, you don’t have to buy ANYTHING. The midwinter feast was hijacked by the Romans for Christianity, and more recently by the corporations for profit, but the only justification you need for celebrating Christmas is that you are human and this is the time of year for family, feasting, and the hearth. It’s older than you, it’s older than your religion and it’s older than any history book. Celebrating with the rest of humanity in defiance of the darkness, to turn the seasons around and bring the sunlight back to the fields.
Merry Midwinter everyone x
(try something other than turkey yeah?)