Christmas crept into Pine Cover like a creeping Christmas thing: dragging garland, ribbon, and sleigh bells, oozing eggnog, reeking of pine, and threatening festive doom like a cold sore under the mistletoe.
I hope you enjoyed today’s First Lines for the Holidays. Whatever holiday you celebrate (or don’t celebrate) during December, I wish you good health, abundant happiness, and a year of excellent reading.
December holidays are plentiful and different and yet… they each offer more than shopping, and gift getting, and partying. No matter which day you celebrate, here are some holiday quotes to get you in the spirit.
Happy Bodhi Day
A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.
Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.
Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
“To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle, every cubic inch of space is a miracle.” – Walt Whitman
“At this time of year, when the sun is most hidden, the holiday of Hanukkah celebrates the rays of hope and light. Often, it is through simple and unrecognized miracles that we are able to feel the warmth of hope and light.”~ Rafael Goldstein
“A candle is a small thing. But one candle can light another. And see how its own light increases, as a candle gives its flame to the other. You are such a light.” — Moshe Davis
Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. Calvin Coolidge
Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone. Charles M. Schulz
Christmas, my child, is love in action. Dale Evans
The true Christmas spirit is putting others’ happiness before our own, and finding you’ve never known such happiness. Toni Sorenson
Happy Winter Solstice
On the shortest day and the longest night may your light shine bright.
Isn’t it Amazing?
The spirit of the holidays are close to the same.
The holiest of holidays are those kept by ourselves in silence and apart; The secret anniversaries of the heart.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.
Martin Luther King
Like MLK, I believe that truth and love will have the final word.
I wish we could put up some of the Christmas spirit in jars and open a jar of it every month.
How different the world might be if we all opened up a jar of holiday spirit once a month. Holiday quotes will only get you in the spirit if you allow yourself to feel. Feel the truth of the words. Feel love and compassion. And spread it around. Still having difficulty getting into the spirit? Maybe you need to read Alone for the Holidays or Treat Your Holiday Stress with Laughter.
So celebrate the holiday of your choice or your faith. Share the feeling of peace, love, and compassion. Do you have holiday quotes to get you in the spirit? Please share in the comments below.
Welcome to December, the last month of the calendar year. As I thought about the posts for this month, my thoughts turned to December as the end of the year. But it’s not just an end. According to some, this is the most special month of the year.
The Most Special Month of Holidays
It’s a month of many holidays. See my posts from last year that gave you a little information about each holiday.
For Christians (those who keep the spirit of Christianity), it’s the month we celebrate Christ’s birthday. That makes it an important birthday.
The second reason it’s THE birthday month? It’s my son’s birthday. His birth was the very best give I ever got.
December also includes one of my best friends’ birthday. And it includes a beloved aunt’s birthday (though she passed away many years ago) . Plus, many of my internet friends have birthdays in December.
Finally, December is my birthday month. Yay!
The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been. Madeleine L’Engle
It’s the End of the Year
Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection.
It’s a time of year when we look back to see what we’ve accomplished and celebrated and lost. There are always some losses during a year. It’s the nature of things.
There are always deaths and medical or emotional challenges during the year. These losses can cut to the quick.
There are always losses in things we didn’t do or accomplish or finish. Do you take those losses as signs of failures? I used to. But what if they aren’t failures?
What if they were changes or new information? They may have been paths you tried and discovered didn’t work for you. Or they were an overly ambitious goal under the circumstances. Or they were something you thought you wanted and learned you really didn’t. Those aren’t failures. Those are steps on the path of life, on the path of learning.
Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.
This year, try to see the losses as part of the balance of things, the circle of life (if you’ll excuse my use of that phrase).
A Note for those who Find December Depressing
Don’t take this post as an admonishment if you suffer from depression. Depression is real. It can be more than “mental,” it can be a physical ailment. People who live with depression battle some of the most difficult demons in life and are some of the strongest people I know.
Make your December the most special month. Celebrate your learning, your growth, your achievements, your “losses,” and YOUR favorite holiday. Won’t you help me celebrate by sharing your end of year or holiday reflections?
It’s the end of December but not the end of the holidays, feasts, and celebrations.
The evening or the entire day before Christmas is a time of many traditions and celebrations.Many attend a special midnight service commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. Some fast this day and feast after the midnight service. Others exchange gifts on this day.
In many countries, the Christmas tree is brought into the house and decorated on this day. It is also traditionally the day the Yule log was lit. See more about the Yule log here
Learn more about the customs across the globe here.
In my home, we take time to listen to Christmas carols, nibble on some treats, read, and enjoy each other’s company.
This is one of my favorite holidays. It commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, son of God. Linus from Charlie Brown’s Christmas sums this event up very nicely.
Anastasia of Sirmium Feast Day
Anastasia was a matron of a noble Roman family married to a pagan. Little is known about Anastasia. She was martyred in 284-305 when despite decrees from Diocletian, emperor of Rome, she stood up for her faith.Learn more about Anastasia of Sirmium here
Also known as the Twelve Days of Christmas (not the song),runs from December25 through January 6th. Is a tradition that began in the Middle Ages as a pagan celebration. It evolved into a series of days of fast and prayer commemorating a different saint each day. Today there are many people who only know about it because of the song. When the Twelvetide is celebrated it is often a series of feast days celebrated with a gift each day and culminating on the twelfth night or the Epiphany. Learn more here.
Little is known about this ancient holiday. Historically the Vainakh people of the North Caucuses celebrated their primary deity, Deela Malkh, and the birth of the sun on this day. Learn more here or here.
This daywas a festival celebrated by the Romans. It is thought that this was a day celebrating “unconquered sun.” More information can be found here or there.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah is to Pakistan as George Washington is the United States of America. His birthday, December 25, is a national holiday.The national flag is on prominent display. Pakistani citizens visit his tomb, wreaths are laid at the mausoleum, and children often perform ceremonies. Read more about Jinnah and the national celebration here.
Saint Stephen’s Day
Saint Stephen was a Christian deacon known for his service to the poor and mentioned in the book of Acts in the Bible. This day is dedicated to Stephen who was put to death in 36 AD after angering Jewish authorities by professing his faith. There’s more information about St. Stephen here and here.
Originating in the United Kingdom, Boxing Day is the first week-day after Christmas-day. It is unclear historically what Boxing Day was at first. The celebration may have been a tradition of gratuities given to servants (who worked through Christmas) on their first day-off after Christmas. Or it may have been a tradition opening the alms box the day after Christmas to distribute the donations to the poor.
Today a “Christmas-box” is given with gratuities for services rendered. These gratuities were intended for service providers for which there was no direct payment (post-men, errand-boys, and tradespeople or servants of various kinds). Learn more at the factmonster or Wikipedia.
Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration honoring African heritage in the Americas. Created by Maulana Karenga (born Ronald McKinley Everett) in the mid-1960s to give Blacks an alternate holiday. See the official website for more information.
Saint John the Evangelist‘sDay
This feast day commemorates the author of the book of the Gospel of John.
Feast of theHoly Innocents’
A day to commemorate the boys slain by Herod the Great in his attempt to kill the baby Jesus. All boys two years of age and under were slain and are regarded by some as the first martyrs. Learn more here.
I’m including the last day of December since it’s the only December day next week.
New Years Eve
The last day of the year is celebrated with social gatherings with food, drink, and sometimes, fireworks.
Saint Sylvester’s Day
Pope Sylvester died in 335. Little is known about Sylvester though legend has it that link him with several miracles, or that he healed and baptized King Constantine, or that he killed a dragon. Find more about Pope Sylvester here.
The first Watch Night service is believed to have been held in 1733 with the Moravians, a small Christian denomination from the area of present-day Czech Republic. It was a night to meditate or watch over one’s covenant with God. More about Watch Night and the false rumor around it can be found here.
The Scottish New Year’s Eve celebration may be derived from Norse and Gaelic observances. It usually lasts three to five days and includes concerts, street parties, fireworks, and special traditions. One of those traditions, First Foot, is the visiting your neighbor after the stroke of midnight bearing symbolic gifts (shortbread or black bun, a kind of fruit cake). See this website for four more traditions of Hogmanay.
Omisoka is an important holiday for the people of Japan. They remove last year’s clutter and clean their homes top to bottom in preparation for the new year. Feasting with friends and family clears away food from the old year. At midnight the temple bell is struck 108 times and the faithful visit a shrine. More information can be found here.
This is the end of December and the end of my list. In the interest of space, I’ve missed a number of holidays. Please add yours in the comments below or tell me how you’ll be celebrating one of the days listed above.
Thank you so much for reading and following my blog in 2017.
Have a safe and happy holiday, whichever one you celebrate.
Continuing my exploration of the holidays and celebrations in December here are ten celebrations held during the third week of December.
An ancient Roman winter solstice festival in honor of the deity Saturn. Festivities continue until the 23rd of December. Historically this festival was celebrated with sacrifices, a public banquet, private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival. Most of us only remember the continual partying part. *grin*
Also called the Midwinter Yule, the Winter Solstice takes place in the northern hemisphere on December 21st. This is an astronomical event that produces the day with the shortest daylight hours and the longest night in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, this is the day with the longest daylight hours and shortest night. The northern hemisphere Midwinter Yule is known by many different names and many different peoples celebrate the return of the sun.
Feast of Juul
The Feast of Juul was a pre-Christian festival observed in Scandinavia at the time of the December solstice. Fires were lit to symbolize the heat, light and life-giving properties of the returning sun. A Yule or Juul log was brought in and burned on the hearth in honor of the Scandinavian god Thor.
Pancha Ganapati is celebrated from December 21 through 25 in honor of the Hindu deity, Ganesha. Ganesha has the head of an elephant and has many attributes.He is the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences, the deva of intellect and wisdom, the god of beginnings, and a patron of letters and learning.
A statue of Ganesha is the center of this celebration. Each day, children dress the statue in the color of the day and prepare a tray of sweets, fruits, and incense as an offering to Ganesha. Chants, songs, and bhajanas (lyrical songs with religious themes) are sung in his praise. After Buddhist devotionals, everyone shares sweets. Each day gifts are given to the children. The gifts are placed before Ganesha and opened on the fifth day.
There’s more information about Pancha Ganapati here and here.
Shabe Yaldç or Shabe Chelle is an Iranian festival celebrating the victory of light and goodness over darkness and evil. Friends and family gather together to eat, drink and read poetry (especially Hafez) until well after midnight. Fruits and nuts are eaten and pomegranates and watermelons are particularly significant. The red color in these fruits symbolizes the crimson hues of dawn and glow of life.
Here and here you can learn more about Yalda Night.
Soyal is aZuni and Hopi tradition to welcome back the sun and bless their community, their homes, their animals, and their plants. The spirit guards ofthe Hopi, the Katsinam or Kachinas, dance at the winter solstice.
HumanLight is a modern Humanist holiday originated by the New Jersey Humanist Network in celebration of “a Humanist’s vision of a good future.” This holiday was invented to create a positive, festive celebration that doesn’t need to include any particular religious or national traditions. It’s meant to be positive, personal, and creative.