Monday, December 22, 2008

Winter solstice

We are now deep into mid-winter. Since time immemorial, many civilisations had mid winter festivals or festivals of light to coincide with the solstice. There is a theory (and it makes sense to me) that Stonehenge is not a mid summer site but a mid winter site as once you know when mid-winter happens, you can count the days/moon cycles to planting. Mid summer does not tell you much about the planting/harvesting cycle.

The reason why Christmas or the Mass of Christ's birth is celebrated when it is, is that it was offered as an alternative to Saturnalia or other light festivals. The Coptic Christians used to celebrate the feast of Christ's birth in May and this sort of date makes far more sense given when the Romans did their census taking...New Year for the Romans on the legal side of things was April. January as the start of the new year was religious.

The early Christians were quite good at providing alternative festivals and making things easier. In this case, the celebration that Christ was born to bring light into the world. The whole point was not take over fesitvals but it make it easier for new Christians...It is just through time that people began to assume that Christ was actually born on that day. And does it truly matter? It does give people a pause for thought and a chance to remember and reconnect with others. I think whichever priest first thought up the idea deserves a vote of thanks and praise as it is one of those inspired brilliant ideas that has captured the imagination and has enable people across the centuries to take time to remember the story of the nativity and what happened.

So however you celebrate, (and hopefully you do celebrate in some form), take time to think about all those people many thousands of years ago who were celebrating the same thing.

In other news:

Kate Walker brought to my attention that Mills & Boon India are running a contest to find an Indian author for the Modern line. I think this is a wonderful opportunity. Also I would urge any would be entrant to read Kate Walker's book -- 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance if at all possible as it is full of tips and hints for any would be Modern writer.

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