When it gets closer to this time of year, many people often say that Christmas has lost it’s meaning, with the focus on consumerism becoming larger every year. But what is ‘the meaning’ of this time of year?
Christmas is celebrated in the winter festival because it aligns with the cycles of nature and our lives, predating organised religions by millennia. I feel this point often gets forgotten about, and it is important to remember that at the end of the year, when the dark nights are getting longer and life is lacking, the solstice is passing and the natural world is being reborn into the light.
The winter festival is often expected to be an enjoyable and uplifting time of year, yet a recent study of 3,000 people in the UK has revealed that 65% find Christmas stressful. It is actually the sixth most stressful life event, up there with divorce! A lot of this can be linked to the speed of modern life, as many often place spirituality at the back of their minds, feeling that they don’t have the time to explore their spirituality, and as a result, don’t have time to ‘do Christmas properly with real meaning’.
The true spiritual meaning of the winter festival is vested in the relationships we have. This time of year is the time to come together and reflect on the meanings we have in each other’s lives. With our focus being drawn towards Christmas preparations, we need to remember to pause, reflect on the year just past and consider what the year ahead holds for us. In terms of our goals and aspirations what is our vision for the coming year?
By simply slowing down, and considering the true meaning of the winter festival, we can be reminded of the importance of community, which lies at the heart of the festival. So often, we do not appreciate the meaning other people give to our lives, and do not take the time to express our feelings in good way. Many feel insecure about letting people know how much they mean to us.
Christmas isn’t just a time for family; it’s a time to meditate on all of our relationships, including the relationship we have with ourselves. Our relationship with ourselves has to come first- we must take care of ourselves. If we are not at peace with ourselves how can we be a source of joy to others? The solstice presents the perfect opportunity for us to think about what sort of life we lead, allowing us to gain a sense of self-acceptance and peace that is necessary in order to effectively express our feelings to others.
The winter festival is far more than observing tradition; it is a time for new beginnings, a time for looking at how we can enrich our relationships with friends and relations to be aware of others on our planet who are suffering, people we do not even know. With Christmas around the corner, try to use the time wisely and look at what changes need to made in your life to bring you closer to the people who matter the most. Look beyond the pile of presents on 25th December with a fire crackling away in the background, to the entire year, as each of us can bring a warmth to enrich each other’s lives and the life of our global community.