The Season of Gifts

T he month of December is traditionally the season of gifts, not only in the Western World but in the Eastern World as well, where Christmas has become well established, even for those with different religious values. For example, while only 1 per cent of the Japanese believe in Christ, Christmas is celebrated even more rigorously in Japan than in Europe or North America. Why is this true?

For Better Bounties

Look to the evergreen, which both Worlds bring into their homes as part of the winter solstice celebration, on or around the darkest day of the year. From the time of the agricultural revolutions, one thing our ancestors knew was that a good harvest one year did not guarantee the same the next year. So even if the bounty wasn’t terrific, the evergreen represents hope for the New Year.

For Longer Life

A Christmas tree is a decorated tree, usually an evergreen conifer, traditionally associated with the celebration of Christmas. The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize longer life (whether eternal or not) was a custom of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. In 15th century Latvia and Estonia, an association of local unmarried merchants, ship owners, and foreigners erected a tree for the holidays in their guild. On the last night of the celebrations leading up to the holidays, the tree was taken to the town hall square where the members of the guild danced around it. A German chronicle of 1570 reports that a small tree, decorated with apples, nuts, dates, and pretzels, was erected in the guild-house for the benefit of the guild members’ children, who collected the dainties on Christmas Day.

For Heightened Economic Activity

Because gift giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity among both Christians and non-Christians, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. The economic impact of Christmas is a factor that has grown steadily over the past few centuries throughout the world.

So here we are in the midst of a string of unsuccessful harvests (the “Great Recession”). Do we have anything to celebrate? Do we hope for the future? The answer to these questions may tilt negatively, so this year, counter your pessimism with something optimistic and positive.

Celebrate your consciousness, your values, and your aspirations. These are the bounties of your personal harvest. Celebrate your health and that of your loved ones this solstice. Cherish the evergreen that exists in your mind. If properly tended, a season’s year of gifts can be yours.

For longer life and gifts,

Will Block

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