By Rachel Birdsell
I have seen the phrase “reason for the season” about 9,526 times this month. We are all being implored to please, for the love of all things holy, remember the reason for the season. But I’m not sure which one I’m supposed to remember. There are a number of reasons people celebrate this particular time of year and as many ways to celebrate.
For Christians, the reason is the birth of Jesus. Pagans will be celebrating Yule, which will probably include some naked dancing with way too many Yule logs and sugarplums flapping in the breeze. Scientists are reminding us the axial tilt of the earth is the true reason for the season, while the Jewish community is recovering from eating too many latkes.
If you’re into Vainakh mythology, you’ll be celebrating Malkh, which is the birthday and festival of the sun. If you are disgusted with the commercialism of Christmas, you can relax beside your Festivus pole. And let’s not forget Dongzhi Day, Larentalia, Yalda, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, the Night of the Radishes, Korochun and one of the most important days, National Chocolate Day on the 24th.
Children around the world await the arrival of Santa Claus and his bag of toys while children in the European countries are terrified Krampus will show up and beat them with rusty chains before dragging them off to hell. If you aren’t familiar with Krampus, he is Santa’s evil counterpart. He is usually depicted as your typical devil with red skin, horns, cloven hooves and an extremely long tongue. His duty is to punish the children who’ve been bad, and it seems he doesn’t take his job lightly.
You probably have your own holiday traditions. It may include trying your best to dodge a very drunk Uncle Frank at a holiday dinner — whether that dinner is goose and figgy pudding or Chinese takeout. Some families will attend Christmas Eve mass, others will pile into the car and go on a tour of lights. You may be a parent who is either amazing or freaking out your children with Elf on a Shelf shenanigans. For some, watching “White Christmas,” “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “A Christmas Story” is tradition; others may prefer to watch reruns of “The Simpsons.”
For me, Christmas is a time to spend with my family. Receiving gifts stopped being important to me a long time ago. I’d much rather watch the little ones enjoying their day. I don’t celebrate Christmas as the birth of Christ, but rather as a time of year to reflect, regroup and take a bit of a break from working. I try to focus on the peace on earth and goodwill towards men this time of year is supposed to bring. It should be the time of year when we can put aside our differences and actually be nice to each other.
Whatever you celebrate or don’t celebrate this time of year, I hope you are warm, well-fed and surrounded by love and laughter.
Rachel Birdsell is a freelance artist and writer. You can drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.