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Christmas and Yule -
traditional and spiritual aspects, Pagan origins & the 12 days after Christmas
by Ralph Nimmann (Dec 2000 - updated Dec 2008)

a candle reminds us on our inner light

The traditional aspect:

It does not matter, that astronomers found out that Jesus was born in the summer month, on the 17th of June in the year 2 BC (when the venus and Juppiter seemed to merge into one bright star): if Jesus is considered to be or bring the Light of the world, it is only obvious, that no other time in the year than Winter Solstice is appropriate to remember and celebrate this.

Most of us don't know, that in the 1920s the red with white outfit of Santa Claus was designed by a company called "Coca Cola" - and again: this does not matter. We should remember the real roots of Christmas:

Since ancient times people all over the world were aware, that the world and nature around them reflect the illustriousness of the force, which created all.
Are we aware, that every plant, every being and even stones, water and air reflect and represent this creative force and therefore should be considered being divine and treated in a respectful manner?

Our ancestors in Europe, which we often refer to as Pagans, had this wisdom and respect for nature, similar to the Native American people. They celebrated the rebirth of the light at Winter Solstice - the point of return, which gets born 3 days later at Yule. The light is always born from the dark womb of the night.

Giving away presents to others is a gesture of sharing this new-born light with others. The Christmas tree, the holly and the ivy, the mistletoe, the Yule log, caroling, gift giving, feasting, timing of Christmas, the 3 magicians honouring Jesus' birth etc.: all are of Pagan origin. Do we remember and honour what we inherited from this tradition?

"Pagans today still celebrate the winter solstice as Yule, one of the lesser sabbats. It is also known as Midwinter, Yuletide, Alban Arthan, Feill Fionnain, ... (depending on the tradition followed) and is the time when the Goddess gives birth to the Divine Child, the reborn Sun God; a time when the waxing sun overcomes the waning sun. In some traditions this is symbolized as the struggle between the Holly King and the Oak King (the Holly King dressed in red, driving a team of eight reindeer - eight being the number of Solar Sabbats and deer being sacred to the Celtic Gods .... As in days of old, it is a time to celebrate the turning of the Wheel of Life (Yule meaning 'wheel'), rebirth, and the coming light. " (Starhawk, 1979)

I hope for a reconciliation of our old Pagan traditions with the Christian belief and wish, that Pagans and Christians respect each other.

The spiritual aspect:

Spiritual teachings always have a deeper meaning behind the obvious story. Historic "facts" and details become unimportant, when we understand the message. The birth of Light (symbolised by the sun as well as by Jesus) is a symbolic reminder, which may help us to allow this Light being born in our hearts.

Jesus of Nazareth embodied the eternal Christ energy. The Biblical prophecy of the Second Coming of Christ will most probably happen as a collective wave, awakening rememberance in our hearts.

The 12 days between Christmas (26 Dec) and Epiphany (in Germany called 'Heilige 3 Könige', 6th of January, which is also the Russian Orthodox Christmas) is a period of transformation; the last 6 of the old and the first 6 days of the new year. Many become ill as part of a healing process, so our soul has time for integration.

According to some spiritual teachings each of these 12 days is energetically connected with one of the months of the next year: 26 Dec=Jan, 27 Dec=Feb etc. What we do and where we focus our attention on affects and presets kind of energetic frames for the next year.

How will you spend this time? - Ralph


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logo: Dances of Universal Peace (circle of linked hearts) in a circle of snow men holding hands

Graphic by Vitalija Zelenevska

Dancing and chanting

we link our hearts

in a circle.

Thus Mother Earth gives birth

to the Light

and becomes

a shining star

in the winter night

Text: Ralph Nimmann

[ please use www.rainbow-cambridge.org.uk/ralph/christmas.htm when linking to this page ]

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Foto: Ralph Nimmann '99

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