Antinous for Everybody

Archive for the tag “winter solstice”

The reason for the season

So many holy days in so many traditions cluster around the point of the winter solstice. Jesus shares his birthday with Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Son. Yuletide gave us decorated trees, flaming logs, and a night-riding gift-giver in furs who might be Odin. Hanukkah, as one Tumblr user wittily put it, celebrates an actual war on Hanukkah–the Jews won. Kwanzaa, too, has the symbolism of abundant light and abundant food.

The days will get longer now, but the weather will only get colder. In my neck of the woods, it might well be the spring equinox, another cluster point for feasts, before it truly starts to warm up. I’m not looking forward to standing at the bus stop on weekday afternoons, in the dark, perhaps in ankle-deep or deeper snow.

Why are we celebrating right now when things are only going to get worse? I think I figured it out. A Jewish friend of mine posted Christmas greetings to Christian friends on Facebook, with a picture of herself wearing antlers. I commented, “Hospitality: The real reason for the season,” and then I thought, Holy shit, it’s time for a blog post.

Hospitality. It’s cold and it’s dark, and it’s going to get brighter yet colder. The ground will be hard and the winds will cut. So we create light and color with our decorations, we create warmth with Yule logs and fires lit and ovens baking warm food. We have a surplus and so we share it. We invite friends and family over, make donations and volunteer to help strangers. We do these things, ultimately, because it’s cold and it’s dark and we’re not going to make it through alone. We share hospitality because we need it.

I’m divorced and I’m alone this Christmas morning, except for my bird, who appreciates his millet treat even if he doesn’t understand why he’s getting it. This is not my first Christmas on my own, but I’m seeing a lot of my friends who are isolated and suffering right now. I did have a party invitation I was eager to accept, but unfortunately, I picked up a cold at my workplace and decided not to go share it with my friends and their friends.

If you are enjoying a holiday with friends and family, food and gifts, lights and warmth today, take a moment to think of friends who might be alone. Call them, text them, invite them in. Show hospitality, because that, not axial tilt nor any one holy day, is the real reason for the season.

POEM: A hymn for the winter solstice

The longest night, the shortest day
Each year it comes and goes its way
The bleak midwinter blest with feasts
To joy the greatest and the least

The newborn light becomes a boy
His mother’s pride, the whole world’s joy
The gods immortal come to earth
In mortal flesh for mortal mirth

Here Jesus sleeps with ox and ass
As one by one the shepherds pass
To worship him the angels sang
On whom the coming centuries hang

Antinous puts on the crown
That Dionysus handed down
Of ivy, grape, and fragrant pine
And bids us to the feast with wine

While Hercules, the victor strong,
Cries, “Io, Io!” with the throng
And Angerona has the right
To keep us silent for a night

So let us keep our flames alight
Through shortest day and longest night
And hold each other, heart and hand,
Till spring spreads forth throughout the land.

Wise words in a dark time

From John Beckett’s blog

The dark times we are experiencing now will not disappear when we light our Solstice candles.  I cannot promise you a bright new calendar year.  Yet we light our Solstice candles anyway.  We do what we do not because it will make everything nice and easy but because this is who we are….

These dark times are hard and we do ourselves no favors if we pretend they are not.  But our goal is not merely to survive, it’s not to simply get through this.  Our goal to build a better world and to live honorable and even happy lives in the process.

Sometimes we do the right things because we want to.  Sometimes we do the right things because others force us to.  And sometimes we do the right things because to do anything else is simply too painful.  This is such a time.

(You should read the entire post. Go, go.)

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