We all know how commercial Xmas has become, and how we have lost sight of its true meaning. Yet, over the past few years, I have rediscovered my enjoyment of this festival. And that’s partly to do with living in the countryside.
What does Xmas mean to you? Rampant spending on pointless and short-lived consumer products? Overindulgence in food? Wasting the planet’s resources through the vulgar adornment of your living room or house with electric illuminations?
Not pretty, is it?
For me, this time of year has become all about getting back to the true and original meaning of Xmas – that is, the pagan celebration of the winter solstice.
I’m not talking about covering myself in wode and hopping naked around a bonfire adorned with holly and uttering strange incantations. I don’t have any time for ancient superstitions, other than from a perspective of academic interest.
No, I’m talking about celebrating the fact that the days will start getting longer again and that we can look forward to spring.
Living in the depths of the countryside, we have become acutely aware of nature’s moods and seasons. And we enjoy witnessing how nature responds to the cycle of the year. Science, of course, has given us greater understanding of what is happening and why, and deepens the awe and wonder of the spectacle.
And so the winter solstice is not as mysterious to us as it was to those pagans who developed rituals around it. But we are every bit as grateful as them for the knowledge that the days will now become longer – that winter’s apparent decline is temporary.
When you understand that this is what the festivities are about, you can shrug off all that nonsense that has been artificially piled on top of this natural waypoint in the year – silly stuff like plastic holly, flashing lights and Christianity.