Monday, December 5, 2011

~~ WHAT IS CHRISTMAS SPIRIT? ~~ LIGHTS?

Last night while channel surfing I stumbled upon the history channel. The program was about the "addiction" of decorating the house with an obscene number of lights. I believe a contest  (the most renowned in the US)
was being followed since 2005 when it became a competition. The winner got, ~~ you guessed  it~~ a large ornament  which lights up. 

What struck  a spiritual cord with me was what one of the contestants remarked "isn't it great to see the Christmas Spirit shared with the visitors as their eyes light up when they see the Farris-wheel and Santa Clause flying from  our house to the neighbors (animated characters). 

To try to make sense of what has become quite a circus display when Baby Jesus takes a back seat to Santa Claus and his reindeer, etc. lets consider the history of Lights and candles in general and how they relate to Christmas and the winter solstice:

The following comes from the  GIZMODO  web site:

"Thomas Edison was known for his wacky publicity stunts, but during the Christmas of 1880 he went for the sentimental rather than shock value. That year, instead of electrocuting an elephant he brought us the first electric Christmas light display. By the time 1880 rolled around, Edison had his incandescent light bulbs pretty well figured out, and was on the lookout for a way to advertise them.

Today we look at Christmas lights and think "Oh, those are pretty." But the tradition of lighting lights in the winter months didn't start off with aesthetics in mind. December is the darkest month of the year with the shortest days. People living without central heating in the 12th century were understandably unhappy when the sun went down and plunged them into the cold depths of night. Brian Murray's article tells us that back during the winter of 1184 was the first recording lighting of the Yule Log in Germany. The burning of a  log was seen as a symbol of the sun's promise to return. It probably didn't hurt that a big burning hunk of wood makes for a pretty good heat source."

I am looking forward to this year's Winter Solstice on December 21,2011 on a Tuesday with a drum circle and burning of a Yule Log.

 LIGHTS AROUND THE WORLD

Festival of Light: Diwali in India

Diwali, meaning array of lights, is a Hindu light festival. It symbolizes the triumph of light over darkness. It is one of the most important celebrations in India.
  • Although it was originally a Hindu celebration, Diwali is now enjoyed by people of every religion in India. It is a family celebration which takes place in October or November and lasts for five days.
  •  
  • This festival of lights celebrates the victory of good over evil and the glory of light.
  • Commemorating Lord Rama's return to his kingdom Ayodhya after completing a 14-year exile, people decorate their homes, light thousands of lamps and give out sweets. There are fireworks in the streets.

  • Diwali is a time for fun and rejoicing. However, before the celebration begins there is a lot preparation.

  • The house must be thoroughly cleaned and windows opened in order to welcome the Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. People light up their homes using thousands of clay oil lamps to welcome the Goddess of prosperity. 

Festival of Light: St. Lucia's Day in Sweden

According to folk tradition, December 13th follows the longest night of the year in Sweden. During the winter there are only a few hours of sunlight each day. St. Lucia is honored this day with her wreath of candles.
  • The oldest girl in the family is declared St. Lucia on December 13th. On this day she dresses up wearing a white robe with a red sash and a wreath with candles on her head.
  • The "St. Lucia" of the family serves everyone a special bun called Lussekatter.
 

Festival of Light: Christmas in Mexico

During the nine days prior to Christmas, Mexican families march from house to house with candles looking for a room at the inn. They are replicating Joseph and Mary's search in Jerusalem.

Traditions of light: Hanukkah

Hanukkah is the Jewish Festival of Lights celebrated in countries all over the world. In 165 B.C. there was a great battle between the Maccabees and the Syrians. The Jews won the battle and when they went to their temple, they found that the Syrians had allowed their sacred light to go out. They only had oil for one day. The miracle of Hanukkah is that the oil lasted 8 days until a messenger could return with more. There are nine candles in the menorah.One of the is used to light the other candles and the other eight stand for the eight days that the oil kept burning. 

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These are just a few examples of how people around the world view Lights in their country as to their religious and secular traditions. The question I pose to you is ~~ What is the true Christmas Spirit? Not for a second do I believe that a few thousand lights on a house exhibits the meaning of Christmas. There is a residential area near where I live and almost the entire neighborhood is involved with decorating their house with Christmas lights, like what you see in the image above. When I see this expression of Christmas I see nothing but commercialism as during the time of Thomas Edison promoting this work in 1880. I have no image of spirituality in mind. Light by fire, by oil, electrical or candle can be a spiritual conduit, however lights on houses as above can be a distraction to one's inner peace or at the very least a display of worldly possessions, not condusive  to spirituality .

What is true Christmas Spirit for me? Going to a children's hospital burn victims ward and giving the gift of love with maybe a stuffed toy. Working in a soup kitchen as did both my daughters  for years during the Christmas Holidays. Or ~~ Sitting next to my humble display of lights(that do not light up the sky in the neighborhood, at my nest (home) and generating positive thoughts towards all humanity. Maybe seeing a Christmas movie like, "Its a wonderful life" with James Stuart and other movies about good triumph against bad and evil. Charles Dickens wrote my favorite story "A Christmas Carol". What an inspirational writer Dickens was in portraying a man who lost sight of what is important in life and given another  opportunity to live a life of love and compassion.



"Its a wonderful life"  also is a great story about a man who had no idea how much he influenced the town he lived in or what a good person he was.





May we find the Christmas spirit within us! Allow the light you have within to shine! Realize how valuable you are to your fellow creatures who share the air we breath and remember that without love and compassion, there is no Christmas Spirit!






7 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful article with us. And as you said: "without love and compassion, there is no Christmas Spirit!" - Soooo true!!!

    May you and all your beloved ones enjoy a beautiful Christmas full of Love, Light (Not those "Lights") and much health.

    Regina

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  2. Thank you my spiritual sister! Same to you with love, light and peace!

    Stephen

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  3. Thank you for sharing this wonderful article. There is no Christmas Spirit anymore. Its true!
    Merry Christmas with joy and peace,
    Arlie

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  4. Thank You for this Stephen. What you said is so true. I have no lights on my home. But I have my nativity displayed with pride and a small tree. There is lots of love and happiness in my house. All of us know the true meaning of Christmas which makes it joyful. Merry Christmas from our house to yours.

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  5. Thank you all for sharing. You all have created a great energy which I embrace as my Christmas Spirit!

    May all of you be blessed with many years of good health, peace and love. These my are gifts I wish to you!

    Stephen

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  6. Thank you Stephen for your spiritual light.
    Though I am in bed due to an accident (broken leg) and will be till the end of January, I feel so full of hope. Dear friend your Christmas message is in my heart and it really made me feel much better.
    I wish you a very happy New Year with health, love and peace all over the world.
    Hugs from Athens
    Athanassia

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  7. I am so sorry to hear of your accident. I wish for you a speedy and complete recovery.

    Na ehis kala Christougenna and Kali chronia!

    Stephen

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