There have been rituals and celebrations for thousands of years during December. These rituals sometimes celebrated the Winter Solstice, the birth of Mithras, Saturnalia (a Roman Festival), as well as the more recent Christian tradition of celebrating the birth of Jesus. I just spent some time reading about these different traditions and find them fascinating.
The festival of Saturnalia was celebrated for several days where there was a public tradition of a sacrifice and then a public banquet. Then the private celebration began with slaves treated to a sumptuous meal served by their masters. On December 23, it was a day of gift giving especially toys for the children. Some gifts were accompanied by verses and these could have been the first greeting cards.
Our ancestors who watched the stars to know when to plant and harvest have been celebrating the Winter Solstice for thousands of years. The Winter Solstice marked the turning of the Earth’s axis so that the days would start getting longer. It was a return to the light.
The birth of Mithras was celebrated on December 25. Mitra, another name for Mithras, in Sanskit means friend or friendship and he banqueted with the Sun God. Worshippers of Mithras celebrated his birth by lighting torches and candles.
No matter what traditions or rituals you follow this winter time, my hope is that you perform them with love in your heart and the intention for connection with your loved ones. I think this was at the heart of every tradition throughout our history. The festivals were full of joy and merriment, gifts were given with great love and thought, and a return to the light made everyone’s heart glad.
The turning of the wheel of time is marked in the stars so that we never forget. Look to this time to go deep and explore what you wish to create this year. Even during the times of merriment, look for gaps to reflect and look forward. Enter into this new year with love in your heart and visions of deep fulfillment for what comes next.