Tonight is the first night of Chanukah, a celebration of God providing light to his people against all logic. Tomorrow, in the northern hemisphere, is the winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. The solstice is celebrated by many as Yule, a holiday of gratitude for the coming return of the sun. Next week will be Kwanzaa, with its candles (much like those of Chanukah) symbolizing the ongoing life and strength of an oppressed people. And of course, millions of homes are glittering with lights in preparation for Christmas on Sunday.
At this time of year, much is made of the differences between people who celebrate different winter holidays. But I think ultimately, all of these traditions echo the same meanings:
We have faith that light will go on.
In the darkness, we must draw near and share the light and warmth that we have.
We will survive.
Whether you're celebrating faith that a God, a Goddess, nature, or humanity itself that will continue to provide light and life for us through the darkest times, the theme remains the same: Life depends on something larger than ourselves. Life depends on light, warmth, and love. No matter your tradition, this is the time of year to focus on providing those, to ourselves and the people around us. When the sun seems to have gone away, we find light and warmth inside ourselves.
This holiday season, whatever you're celebrating, may you find the light and love you need to thrive. Amen and blessed be.
*Unless you're in the southern hemisphere, in which case you should go barbecue and laugh at the thought of us Yanks shoveling snow.