This time of year we tend to get caught up in holiday parties, programs, shopping, and traffic. Many of the meanings behind certain traditions have been obscured by time, technology, and, in some cases, commercialism. At least one thing, though, seems to have crossed centuries and cultures. Most people celebrate with some form of light. Christmas lights, menorahs, Yule logs, etc., all serve to remind us of how our ancestors viewed the darkest days of the year. Druids used to roll a flaming wheel down a hill during the Winter Solstice to remind the sun to return. Nowadays, we just flip a switch for illumination and keep the dark at bay with electricity.
So, whether you are roasting chestnuts, enjoying a Yule fire, or lighting candles to celebrate the holidays, ponder the possibility that you are carrying on an ancient tradition.
If you would like to learn more, Foster Library has a number of books on various holiday observances. You can even use some of our databases to find more information about holiday symbols and celebrations.
Resident Photographer Aleta Rodriguez