Holidays, Carts, and Horses
Or How We Get the Season Backward
The rush of holiday preparation, too much good food, and the inevitable list of New Year’s resolutions are a great example of how we get the season backwards. Our modern cultural response to Christmas sets us up to lose the meaning of the season.
Historically, the weeks before the celebration of Christ’s birth were spent in contemplation of the Incarnation. Known as the Advent season, it was a time and tradition with great purpose. Advent was to Christmas what Lent is to Resurrection Sunday, a time of spiritual housecleaning. It was also a time to anticipate and prepare for Christ’s Second Coming.
Joy heightened as the day of His nativity approached, but celebration didn’t begin until December 25th. It continued into the following weeks until January 6th, also known as Twelfth Night or Epiphany, when the Magi traditionally arrived. This was known as the Twelve Days of Christmas.
Today we do our soul searching in the days immediately following Christmas, in preparation for the new year. If our meager and self centered resolutions were all the preparation we made for Christ’s Second Coming it would be too little, too late. All our soul searching and hope for a new year would have been for nothing.
Once again our cultural cart is before the horse. Instead of the horse pulling the cart, we are left with an untenable situation. Our modern ‘tradition’ of holiday busyness is draining. The soul of the season has been removed, and what God planned as a joyful, restorative time has the reverse effect.
But we have options. As we enter these high Holy Days we can make changes in our plans, sharpen our focus, educate our sensibilities and pass what we learn on to our children.
Most of all, we can listen to Christ whispering to our hearts. He came that we might have a peaceful, abundant life, and He provided the order and plan for that to be accomplished. Let’s not miss the opportunity this Advent season to prepare our hearts for joy.
You can find out more about Advent at: http://www.Fisheaters.com/customsadvent1.html (a Catholic site with basic history)
For a daily reference of events for you and your children leading up to the first Christmas visit: http://fylliska.blogspot.com/2009/01/advent-reference.html
For a comprehensive list of wonderful children’s stories and activities for Advent visit: http://ebeth.typepad.com/serendipity/2009/11/christmas-and-advent-around-the-world.html