The Christmas spirit
Once again we are approaching Christmas. The little bug inside us, though we don't know how or why, makes us feel so different to other times of the year.
Is it the lights that decorate the streets of our cities and towns? Maybe it's the illusion of sharing the table with our loved ones, when these celebrations provide the ideal motive for bringing the family together. Everyone who has children or relatives living in other cities, or even abroad, know this feeling. There used to be an advertisement for "turrón" where it was sung something like: "Come back home, come back from for Christmas".
The expectation of getting presents can also help to feel this bug in our bodies. It's at this time of year we are given the socks and the underwear that we will wear during the next year. Scarves, gloves, perfume and other similar products are typical gifts at this time, at least in places where Christmas is celebrated in winter. Perhaps where this festivity is celebrated at 25ºC or 30ºC, the typical gifts are swimsuits, suncreams or beach towels.
Another explanation could be the number of films broadcast on TV that pay special attention to specific values such as compassion, generosity, solidarity, peace, love...
Whatever it is, we must admit that at Christmas we feel different, we are surrounded by a special atmosphere and for a few days our life goes out of routine and is full of illusion, which is no minor thing if we consider that during the year and due to the stress of our rhythm of life there is little margin to feel this way.
When we think about Christmas and ask ourselves what we celebrate, the most probable answer is the birth of Jesus. However, there has been no proof that this event occurred on the 25th of December. What's more, according to different studies, celebrating Christmas on this particular day is linked to the Romans' celebrations of Saturn at this time. Later, when the Christian religion spread, it became a happy and festive celebration of the birth of Jesus.
However, what seems evident is that the Christmas spirit is connected to an astrologic phenomenon; the winter solstice.
On the 21st of December the Northern Hemisphere of the Earth is at its furthest point from the sun, bringing the onset of winter. It seems that the Celts believed that on this day the sun died and was reborn on the 25th. According to the legend, on the 21st, between 10 and 12 o'clock at night the Spirit of Christmas came down to Earth with the proposition of delivering abundance, peace and love for the coming year. People gave thanks for what they had received during the previous year and expressed their wishes for the next. It is thought that these wishes had to follow some rules: Firstly, the wishes had to be for the well-being of humanity, secondly for the country and thirdly came friends and family , leaving personal requests until last.
The Christmas Spirit of today
It's clear that, even though many people celebrate Christmas for religious beliefs, the majority of beings live a different experience. Maybe it's because it's an annual tradition when we decorate our homes, the family gets together, give each other gifts and all eat too much!
Can we find this Christmas spirit in this consumer society that we live in, where the most important think is shopping? Well, where we can surely find it is in children, especially the very young ones. At this time they are full of illusion about all the magic that surrounds Christmas. It's a different world, there are lights everywhere, decorating the tree is quite an affair, they know that Father Christmas or The Three Wise Men will visit their homes and leave some of the toys they've asked for, fo sure as long as they've been good!
And what about the adults? Sure they share the illusion too, with all the sentiment of love and peace; society being held responsible for reminding us what a proper Christmas should be like. However, more and more people feel disenchanted by all this, possibly because their personal experience has nothing to do with this idyllic Christmas that is being sold to us by all.
If we talk to our parents and grandparents, we will probably learn that they specially enjoyed these celebrations because they could eat foods that they could only afford to buy at Christmas. Their presents included a toy, but more likely an item of clothing or some new shoes. Certainly they wondered why richer children had better presents while they had to be satisfied with very little, even though they had been well behaved all year.
It's likely that Christmas is celebrated differently in other places in the world, or not at all, because of wars, famine or whatever. It's possible that at some Christmas meal somebody not present is sadly missed. But, all the same, peace, solidarity and good will exists in the hearts of these people who are suffering, be it Christmas or any other day of the year.
Therefore, perhaps we should always have the spirit of Christmas among ourselves, but whatever the case, it's good that al least once a year we are reminded to be grateful for all the good things that have happened during the previous year. That we take advantage of this magic created by Christmas to imporove the lives of those that we love and try to be better people ourselves. Importantly, that our Christmas wish list doesn't only include physical gifts, but propositions that we can impose on ourselves to honour the Spirit of Christmas.