Since the dawn of civilization December has been a month of celebration, for midway through the month the days stop becoming shorter as light once again returns to the world. Just after the Solstice, the longest, darkest of these nights, we celebrate Christmas, a midwinter festival, or modern feast day, where families gather to give gifts to each other and indulge in good food and merriment. It is important to honor the celebration, to gather with friends and feast. It is at this time that relationships are renewed, the bonds of friendship and family ties strengthened.
Joining the celebration holds a magic for us all. By recognizing and celebrating holidays and interacting with family, friends, and our community we acknowledge the seasonal change, attune with the natural tides and acknowledge the rhythms of life, death and rebirth as we recognize that we are a part of it. Participating in holiday celebrations helps us feel connected to our place in society. Through ritual we connect to generations, past and future.
It is through ritual that our lives gain meaning. Carl Jung wrote, "Without meaningful ritual, people suffer. Ritual and ceremony can bridge our past and our present elegantly, making it possible for folks like you and me to travel through life, honoring the good and bad times we've been through. They can help us become human; well-beings, ready to take on more life and liberty and ready to pursue our happiness."
Joining in the celebration contributes to how we see each other and ourselves. A major portion of childhood memories are based around our individual holiday experiences. Barbara Fiese writes in the Journal of Family that families that celebrate holidays are more likely to raise kids who have a strong sense of identity, are healthy, have close ties to family members and succeed in school. Dr. Steven J. Wolin, a clinical professor of psychiatry at George Washington University Medical School, cites that the power of ritual comes from heritage, tradition and most of all something being emblazoned in your brain over time. And that family rituals protect the individual against a sense of loneliness and uncertainty in daily living as it transmits shared beliefs of the family group across generations. Dr. William Dorherty, director of the marriage and family therapy program at the University of Minnesota, has identified two kinds of rituals in our society. The first is the traditional secular and religious rituals surrounding holidays, weddings or funerals; the second involve ritual a family or individual has created to celebrate their life.
Through celebration we give meaning to our lives. As children our lives were sprinkled with small, magical rituals from nightly prayers, to singing skipping songs, blowing dandelions to blowing out birthday candles. As adults practicing daily ritual allows us to experience a more magical life. Through ritual we can reprogram the unconscious mind so we have a different set of expectations about how the world will respond to us. Through ritual we can find our way to the places in our lives that exist in between the tick-tock of everyday living and the luscious places of dreaming, the magical places that connect us to the Divine.
This Yule spend some quality time with friends and family. Renew your connection to your tribe. Gather with friends and let your heart swell with joy. Participate in the celebration and make some new memories. Only you can make your life richer and fill it with meaning. It's the little things that add to your life. Celebration is part of the human experience. Acknowledging the seasons is a simple way to harmonize with the world and to recognize that we are a part of it.