Many moons ago, when I was a child, the week between Christmas Eve and New Year's Day was a stepping out of time: we visited family, had friends and family over to visit, played with cousins, sang Christmas songs and ate plenty of good food. We feasted and were festive. We made snowmen and went ice skating and toboganning. The routine of school and work stopped, and the focus was one of pulling in, of connection and companionship and community with family and friends. It was a time out of time, with a stillness to the air, and to the year, a threshold perhaps.
Now that I am the parent, I make sure that life continues to slow down here, even though the world remains busy outside our doors. We don't have so many aunts and uncles and cousins to visit as I did, as they are fewer in number and more spread out than we were. The buzz of the world does not seem so far away as it did when I was young, or perhaps it was not so loud. To hold that stillness is a challenge.
As I am in my own bubble of the Twelve Days of Christmas and the Holy Nights, I've been thinking about Epiphany and my relationship to this feast, the Feast of Epiphany, the awakening of the wise men from the east, awakening of the self, of consciousness.
Epiphany is said to have its origins in the Saturnalia of Rome. In the Church it is a liturgical season from Epiphany to Candlemas, a day also known as Brigid's Day, and for some associated with the churching of women.
For me, Christmas is a season that begins just after Thanksgiving with the first week of Advent and continues until Candelmas, or Brigid's Day. Over the years we have taken up activities that have become tradition, along with many of the traditions I grew up with.
It has not always been this way. As a child I read Marx and Engels' History of the Family and then rebelled against everything, church, tradition, rules. I was not an easy teenager, ahem - sorry mom and dad. As I grow older, I have such compassion for my mom and dad and what they put up with and I now find meaning in the traditions of my own childhood, not as habit or sentimentality but as something that makes meaning for me.
I now celebrate because I want to, it is important for me. I bring them to my children to take part in or not. I wonder if it is in the letting go of them, as I did when I was younger and rebellious, then the contemplation of them, and finally a conscious and hopefully living relationship to them and then inviting them as something meaningful that makes for transformation and a free relationship to celebration? Do you find that happens with you?
We are midway through the twelve days and holy nights of Christmas, the Child of Light and Love or the Sun of Light has triumphed over the darkness of the year and the three kings are following the star as we are moving towards Epiphany, the Festival of the Three Kings; the figures in our house move along with time. The mood of Epiphany carries us to Candelmas. Rudolf Steiner spoke of the mood of Christmas in The Christmas Festival in the Changing Course of Time here in case you are interested.
How do you find your way into festivals and celebrations?