Solstice Now!

Who owns the solstice? Whoever it is, I wish we could just get it over with. The darkness falls before I step into my 5 p.m. class. It is dark when I drive home. The next morning, leaving for my 8:30 a.m. class, I drive to school in the dark. Back at Nashotah House a colleague once said his wife became “almost pagan” in her yearning to pass the winter solstice and head toward the time of year when light prevails over darkness. My wife pointed out a CNN story concerning a New Jersey billboard sponsored by American Atheists. The billboard, just on the Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel into New York, shows the star of Bethlehem, the manger and the wise men. The inscription reads: “You KNOW it’s a myth. This season celebrate REASON.” Naturally, motorists are up in arms. Who owns the solstice?

Before the Thanksgiving leftovers even hit the fridge, Christmas season has begun. Santa always ends the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, making it official. Since we are capitalists, we do what the red-suited captain of industry says: shop. As long ago as A Charlie Brown Christmas complaints of the commercialization of Christmas have reverberated through the media. Personal properties and billboards enjoin us to “keep Christ in Christmas” and remember “the reason for the season.” Economists tell us to spend more to assist the sluggish economy. Meanwhile the light continues to fade; the days grow darker. Why confuse the issue with religiosity? Why not just spend some money on others, feel the release of endorphins, and be thankful?

Nobody knows when Jesus was born. The church selected December to celebrate the event because the shortest day of the year, for those north of the equator, had long been a time of fervent wishes for the return of light. The first-century Christian rivals, the Gnostics, believed in the continual, literal struggle between light and darkness. When sidelined by Orthodox Christianity, the torch was taken up by those who celebrated Saturnalia, Lupercalia, Hogmanay, Yule, Sol Invictus or any number of other winter festivals. Christmas was a relative late-comer to the celebrations that welcome the resurrection of the sun. So drivers from New Jersey should take it easy. The solstice is everybody’s holiday. I just wish that whoever’s in charge would give us all a little more light.

3 thoughts on “Solstice Now!

  1. Hi Steve. Thanks so much for your post. I’m with you. Why not just be generous with people and enjoy the good will. Who cares what the root of it is?

    This billboard reminds me of the ones I see while driving through Southern Missouri. I’m always amazed at the time, money, and energy people spend on trying to get others to agree with them. Tends to strike me as insecurity in one’s own position. All the best.


  2. Jim W.

    This Christmas shopping extravaganza is relatively recent starting in the early 20th century when large retailers began to emerge, Sears Roebuck, Macy’s, Gimbels etc. Marketing and the susceptibility of the public have a lot to do with it. When compared to the length of time Christmas has been celebrated that’s really not too long of a period. I recall a conversation I had with my grandfather who said that when he was a boy if he got an orange…just “an”, singular orange on Christmas it was a big deal.

    Last year my niece who is just starting her career was short on funds so she made everyone something with her own hands. I have to say that was the best present I had received in many, many years. I’d suggest everyone do the same. But, if you must buy something, might I suggest purchasing from a local merchant or craftsman?

    Listening to the economists may be the worst option of all. Do we really need advice from those who didn’t see this storm coming even if it is their specialty?


  3. Henk van der Gaast

    so you are getting a bit picky about what sort of nuclear reactor you like… It’s hardly fair old bean!

    Winter is the time for great meals and family making, family living and family remembering.

    spring, summer and autumn are the time for great meals and family making, family living and family remembering.

    Its a pity you haven’t got New Jersey nihilists making road signs.. “winter, less outdoor time, more indoor time.. Have a party, you are going to die whether you party or not. Life is not an advertorial and all you get when you die is testimonial!”

    yep, we nihilists have overly long signs. If it wasnt for children seeing my signs I would have..”Its cold? JUST B**K”

    You see, Children can be far more imaginative with something like that. We don’t want children thinking? Do we?

    If we did, the movie and games industry would be totally different and bugs bunny and ren and stimpy would reign supreme.

    Stay cold Steve, its very nice here.. perfect cheese making weather. But winter is, perfect beer making weather. No matter what time of year, it’s perfect!

    Now to Piper, Bill boards are there to employ people who make bill boards, marketing people and hide shocking vistas. I think this was brilliantly brought home in Harrison Fords expose of “do androids”. Still years on, not the book, but “wow” what a shot at the feel. If billboards were an expression of insecurity, the church would have them everywhere.


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