Horizon at Sandy Point

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas light

The appeal of the traditional tree has its origin in early Christian history when the rhythm of seasons in northern temperate countries was aligned with the church's calendar, and more specifically with the life of Christ. Remember the shortest day of the year is December 21; and in those early calendars "the sun returns"- the days start lengthening again - on December 25. We are creatures of light - our lives revolve around the sun. Daily rhythms - generally - follow the rise and set of the sun. Annual cycles too. Longer days in spring and summer signal increased animal activity and play. More sleep in fall and winter.

It may be argued that tropical peoples - those nearer the equator - have light all the time.  Perhaps we are more sensitive to smaller gradations in light. We too feel the "slowing" energy as the days get shorter in December, and the quickening in "mid-summer" May to August.

How and when we become imprinted with the symbols of the Christmas tree, decorations and presents are all too easy to figure out. Baby's first Christmas is followed by years of heightened expectations when the tree is mounted, lighted and decorated. To some, the perfect tree is the artificial Douglas or Norfolk fir unfolded from its box each year. To others, it's the real thing, or a tropical pine tree.

The point is that every Christmas tree today is a symbol - a whole set of cyphers for the meaning of life as civilized beings, as humans. Why else do we take trees - real or imagined, dried branches or actual living trees - decorate them to the point of gaudiness, and keep them as a place to accumulate wrapped packages intended as gifts. There are some people who do not "believe." But many of those who do, have actually seen "the light" - as the earth shifts around the sun - that is the promise of renewal, re-creation and another cycle of energy.

No tree ever looked like this! But it speaks for all trees!

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