I know that the reason for the season is to celebrate the birth of Jesus. I know that Advent is the time of preparation before the coming of the Messiah.
I also know that Jesus wasn't born around this time of year and that his birth began to be equated with December 25 because in the 3rd century, Christianity was trying to figure out how to get newly-converted pagans to stop celebrating the solstice. They failed, and so they co-opted the date, associating it with the birth of Jesus rather than with the solstice event itself.
One could argue that they succeeded quite well.
I argue that Christianity made a giant fuck up.
The birth of Jesus should be celebrated. Jesus, as much or possibly more than any other historical figure, shows us how to live a life full of meaning. I'm not arguing that Jesus isn't a big deal.
I am arguing that Christianity made a mistake by not recognizing how important the summer and winter solstices are to all of humanity, Christians included. We should have picked another day to celebrate the birth of Jesus and found ways to celebrate the solstices within our religion.
Today is the Winter Solstice, and it is dark. I write by the light of candles and the lit tree--ancient solstice-y decorations.
On this darkest day of the year, I remember that while darkness is part of the natural order of things, today is as dark as it gets. Tomorrow will have more light, and the day after will have even more. It's a beautiful metaphor for the darkness in each of our lives, and it makes me more tolerant of my own dark places.
Merry Winter Solstice, everybody.