Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Who was St Nick and what does he have to do with Christmas anyway?

I get rather annoyed that as soon as Halloween has passed, out come Christmas decorations, Christmas music plays endlessly in the stores and everyone seems to go crazy. Very few of those ragged gift buyers observe ancient customs, or know what they are. There is much more behind the Christian celebration than meets the eye and it is an important time of year for people of all beliefs. As the world becomes smaller, largely due to jet travel and the internet, it pays to become a little more knowledgeable and open to other cultures and their mid winter observances.

Today is is the feast day of Saint Nicholas, which is observed on December 6 in Western Christian countries and Romania, December 5 in the Netherlands and December 19 in Eastern Christian countries. So who was he and why does he appear in our celebrations? I found this amazing site that links to just about everything you want to know about St. Nicholas, Christmas and other celebrations of the season. Why You can find out all about St Nick over there.

As far as I’m concerned, the start of my celebration is on the first advent, which this year falls late, on December 2nd. That is when I light one red candle, then nother red candle each Sunday till there are four on the 4th advent. Christmas starts with decorating the tree on Christmas Eve with plenty of egg nog and treats. The tree graces my home until 12th night, January 5th, but must come down by midnight, or it attracts bad luck for the rest of the year. However, in Canada, many families of Ukrainian decent are lucky enough to buy gifts half price, as working with a different calendar, their Christmas Day is January 7th. So are they unlucky if they keep their tree up till then?

Our modern multicultural society surely indicates that we need to come up with some universal themes that work for people of all faiths and cultures at this time of year. There is nothing wrong with Christian tradition, but isn’t it more important to celebrate the return of warmth and light at Solstice on December 21st, the return of relatives for the holidays who live far away and an inclusive spirit for all fellow human beings?

May the spirit of the season be with you today and throughout the year.

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