We are full into the magical holiday season. The Christian advent qualities of faith, peace love, light and joy, which began on Dec. 1, are in the forefront of Christian minds.
The eight-candle Menorah of Hanukkah was lit and is extinguished, which reminded the Jewish community of the miracle of one day’s worth of oil burning for eight days in the holy temple of God.
The Buddhist Rohatsu (Japanese for “eighth day of the twelfth month”) has passed. Dec. 8 has come to be the day Japanese Buddhists observe that the historical became enlightenment underneath the Bodhi Tree around 500 years b.c.e., after years of searching.
Still coming is the winter solstice on Dec. 21. In very early times in Norway and Celtic North Europe, peoples’ celebrations revolved around natural events. On the (winter) solstice, the shortest and darkest day of the year, they believed the old Sun God would die. A huge yule log was set to burn all night to welcome the rebirth of the sun king as a baby, and a new year. As the sun God grew, so did the light in the Northern Hemisphere until it reached its zenith at the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Then each day would shorten.
Did you ever wonder at New Year’s why Father Time is depicted as very old, and the New Year is celebrated as a baby? Perhaps they borrowed these symbols. The solstice is still celebrated by many Wiccan households.
On Dec. 25, people celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of Christianity. In my research I found that there are over 41,000 different Christian denominations or sects!
Yet Jesus is recognized as the core, the heart and the truth of the message. That message he sums up as, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” — Matthew 22:35-40
On Dec. 26, Zoroastrians celebrate Zarathosht Diso (Death of Prophet Zarathustra). In the sixth century BCE, Zarathustra had a vision of God as one God “whom he called Ahura Mazda, the creator of all that is good and who alone is worthy of worship.” This was a departure from previous Indo-Persian belief in many gods, and Zarathustra has been termed the first non-biblical monotheist.
His death is observed with prayers, talks about his life and appreciation for all he did. Celebrations occur in the home or temple, not publicly.
It is believed that the three wise men who came to visit the baby Jesus were Zoroastrian.
It is human nature to want to understand our creator and the purpose of life. Many religions have symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to explain the origin of life or the universe. They tend to develop morality, ethics, religious laws or a preferred lifestyle from their ideas about the cosmos and human nature. According to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world.
What’s important is the connection with our creator that the religions lead us to. In this time of peace, love and light, may we be filled with love for all, as one family of one creator. May we be humble in our appreciation that God loves all of his children, and sends teachers to all areas of the world who know the customs of the people there.
Perhaps on the solstice, the Northern Hemisphere’s new year, you’d like to remember that without Mother Earth, we cannot survive in a physical form. What can you do to help the Earth thrive? Recycle? Buy less? Grow some of your own food? Use fewer chemicals? Drive less? Compost? I’m sure you can think of something! And have a happy, meaningful holiday.
Hale `Opio Kaua’i convened a support group of adults in our Kaua’i community to “step into the corner” for our teens, to answer questions and give support to youth and their families on a wide variety of issues. Please email your questions or concerns facing our youth and families today to Annaleah Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org