Dec 052008
 

I couldn't believe it when Tom started his annual rant about Christmas being three weeks away and we have a lot of stuff we need to take care of. Where has the year vanished to? It's bad enough that we're both procrastinators, but this year's a little worse with me making frequent trips to Burlington, Ontario for work.

Being a Native American, I'm sometimes reminded that the whole idea of Christmas as it is observed today is relatively recent history in North America. The picture we associate with the current day Santa Clause was born from the publication of A Visit From St. Nicholas by Clemaent Charles Moore -- a poem first published in 1823 and more commonly known as 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. Obviously, the Christian version of Christmas was introduced to Native Americans by the Europeans after their arrival in North American in the 1600's.

What's really interesting is that while Native Americans knew nothing of Christianity, they -- like other non-Christian civilizations -- had been celebrating the Winter Solstice which occurs between December 20 and December 23 -- just a few days before what we now call Christmas Day. Apparently it was relatively easy to convince Native Americans to celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25 because the story was very much in line with their spiritual beliefs about the Winter Solstice.

I also find it interesting that when referring to the Winter Solstice, some think of it as being the shortest day of the year while others concentrate on it being the longest night. The latter seems more appropriate to me, with the dark of night being a time for quiet reflection and anticipation. I think I now know why as an adult, I've always enjoyed Christmas Eve so much more than Christmas morning.

Enough rambling already. I'd like to be among the first to wish you a happy holiday however you choose to celebrate and a very Happy Winter Solstice.

References:

How do Native Americans celebrate Christmas
Winter Solstice