Got up, went outside to take photos of the snowy sunrise, came back down to breakfast, exchanged gifts, agreed to meet for lunch and then went back for a walk through the snow, chatting to complete strangers along the way.
Which got me thinking… Humans are weird.
It’s extremely unlikely anyone who reads this is unaware of how Christmas was built out of Mithraic legends, a northern European calendar, the tales of a Levantine bishop and a litle date-fudging (the closest Roman census that would have seen Joseph in Bethlehem was apparently 4BC. In March. Which ties in better with the whole ‘following the star’ thing too.)
And that’s just to name a few ingredients in the soup. (Arguably leaving out the main ingredient, even.)
Somehow, this soup makes people hurl themselves across countries and continents, to exchange books from Amazon’s Top 20, wrapped in paper, whilst drinking heavily then following it all with a brief walk including stops to talk with people they have never met before. (That last bit is triple weird for the English.) At no other time of the year is this done in such a way.
One of the friends we are with here in the Cotswolds could not be less religious. The other one describes himself as a ‘Christmas Christian’ (which I like).
Yet we -like the rest of the strangers in the manor- go through the same ritual.
And you know what?
It’s awesome. Really awesome.
Sound immigration policy requires running a country like you would run your genetics if you could.
The bigger the mix, the more the organism can adapt to change.
Variation leads to greater possibilites. Think of it like painting with as any colours as possible.
Christmas is a dizzying bundle of Near-Eastern, Southern European, Northern European, atheist, Bavarian, modern, Pagan, Christian, astrological, capitalist, consumerist, historical parts. That is then regionalised all over the world, picking up local parts as it goes.
(So maybe it’s also like a snowball? That seems more appropriate. Nah, the genetics thing works better. We’re talking about how something new is built of ancient parts like genes.)
Christmas is built of more than two thousand years of beliefs, customs and celebrations.
It’s wonderful. And it belongs to whomever wishes to be involved.
You could be the most tie-dyed-in-the-cape neo-pagan or the most Dawkins-blowing new atheist and you can still have a great time.
With that in mind -may I say with all sincerity- from the bottom of my heart and soul:
Merry Christmas to all of you. Peace on Earth. May today bring you genuine happiness.
And thank you for reading.