Friday, December 08, 2006

Why I celebrate Christmas on December 25

Yes, I know Mithras' birthday is December 25. Yes, I know about the winter solstice. Yes, I know about the Saturnalia. I got the memo. Thanks. In fact, I minored in Obscure Greco-Roman Religious Cults for my MA, so I knew about it all even before you sent the memo.


It's Advent. The nights are getting longer, the days shorter and colder. I had to take in my rosemary last night because it was so cold. I forget every year how early the evening comes, how easy it is to wander out to do a few errands and come back in the dark.

This leads to a sense of urgency and anticipation: How much longer do we have to wait until the days lengthen again?

And then, on the darkest night of the year, a star brightens the sky; a child is born, the most joyous of human miracles in any circumstances, and all the more because that child is God made flesh, who will suffer when he reaches adulthood but for now, for one glorious moment, is suspended in that moment of beauty and wonder at tiny hands, tiny feet, born to a girl who did nothing special but to assent to the angel who burst in on her ordinary life and announced how, in nine months, her world and the entire world would change.

Somehow it just doesn't seem the same to celebrate all that in April.

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