Monday, December 25, 2017

Why This Mid-Winter Holiday is Important

It is that time of year again.

That's right, this is when I say something about this day and its impact on what we do this day, every year.

About two thousand-some-odd years ago, someone may or may not have been born who, in his 33 or 34 year life span, inspired stories that inspired events that (long story short) created the world in which we live today. At one point, someone even decided to count the years from the assumed year of his birth. Somewhere in there the observed date of his birth was moved to coincide with a mid-winter holiday, and here we are.

In time, the traditions surrounding the celebrations of his birth became entwined with the traditions of the mid-winter holidays wherever it was celebrated, until now we have this crazy hodge-podge melange of traditions filling our houses and bringing people together. On top of that, other religions and cultures have made their holidays of the season more culturally impactful, and other traditions of the season have even been created in answer to this. And in addition, the traditions around this season have become the greatest engine for consumption and economic activity in history (maybe. It sure feels that way. Someone else can do the math).

But more important than all this is the fact that, despite the economic impact, despite the lack of connection in the popular imagination with the sources of the many traditions that have been integrated into today's festivities, in spite of the fact that there are some who specifically have different traditions in this season, there is one through-line in all of it.

This is the time when we all are culturally obliged to forget our differences. We are encouraged to come together and be nice to each other.

If only we had more opportunities like that.

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