I started writing this post for Black Friday- something that didn’t even exist in this country ten years ago – a day dedicated to ramping consumption, consumption of products designed to be obsolete by the following year’s Black Friday – but alas procrastination set in and I never finished it. But here we are six weeks later celebrating Christmas – another cultural event that has been corrupted over the past couple of decades to promote hyper over-consumption. And as those sleigh bells and cash registers ring, our planet’s CO2 emissions have increased by 60% in the last twenty years.
In the past twenty years or so, Consumerism has consumed Christmas. But Christmas has always been a festival that has consumed the ideologies before it. The true Christmas tradition.
Like before Christmas, trees were just trees. Centuries before Christ cultures brought evergreen trees, plants, and leaves into their homes upon the arrival of the Winter Solstice* to symbolise the return of life at the beginning of winter’s decline.
In researching the history of Christmas trees I became hooked on the Pagan roots of Christmas and the more I researched, the more the Pagan, Roman (pre Catholicism) and Egyptian (African) origins connected and made sense to the traditions that we practice today. Because traditionally, this is the time of year to give thanks for life, for making it through the shortest and darkest nights of winter and to be joyful for the brighter days literally ahead. A time to prepare and pray for a fertile spring and bountiful harvest for the future.
But that appreciation and understanding of the tie between nature and the survival of humanity and human connection was consumed over centuries and regurgitated into a Season of Climate destroying over-consumption. Fa la la la.
The Nativity story was laid over the pagan traditions and the nature worshiping roots buried deep. Over time capitalism started to sow it’s seeds into the simple story of refuge and future hope. Modernity planting the idea that extravagance is the same as gratitude, that giving consumable goods is how we show love and that excess is an integral part of Christmas. Because we are told that each year has to be bigger and better than the last otherwise something must be going wrong.
So this Christmas, I will be breaking ancient traditions and I won’t be buying a Christmas Tree…,but I will be acknowledging many others in honour of this Yule Time celebration.
I will be cleaning and decluttering our home as in Pagan traditions.
I will be feasting and sharing food in good Saturnalia fashion.
I will be sharing small gifts with loved ones like the many mythical gift giving creatures that adorn seasonal traditions across the world.
I will do it all (except the chariot racing – sorry Sol).
With time given, not financial cost being the festive “sacrifice offered”.
And if I don’t get what I want under my none existent Christmas tree –
Merry Winter Solstice everyone xx
(*modern Christmas thanks to those marketing genius’ the Catholic Church),