CHRISTMAS AND HOPEThis entry was first published in the
Gallup Independent yesterday, December 24, as a "Spiritual Perspectives" column. Reprinted by permission.
Most Bible scholars agree that Jesus was probably born sometime in the spring, not on the 25th of December when we observe his birth. So why don’t we celebrate the birthday then? Wouldn’t it be much more convenient to shop for gifts and special foods when there’s no snow or icy wind to hamper our preparations? One theory is that when Christianity came to pagan Europe, the priests of the new religion felt they needed to substitute a Christian Holy Day for the pagan Winter Solstice festivities.
Spiritual traditions throughout the world hold celebrations at this time of year. Most, if not all, involve bringing light into the darkness of winter. The Jewish commemoration of Hanukkah is also known as “The Festival of Lights” and involves the lighting of eight candles on eight consecutive nights. Kwanzaa is an African American harvest celebration, during which seven candles are lit to recall the seven principles of African Heritage. Solstice rituals include the lighting of candles. And Christmas decorations are replete with lights of many colors.
These jubilees of light symbolize Read More