3 December – Holy Days

Photo by Charlotte Fuller, http://charlottefuller.com/

Angel-bird Cloud, Photo by Charlotte Fuller, http://charlottefuller.com/

One of the challenges for me while creating this calendar was deciding how to approach the question of faith and religion. Broadly speaking, images of a snowy Christmas can dominate the media with a northern hemisphere, western culture bias.

By choosing to use the metaphor of the advent calendar and draw on images of winter, I speak from the tradition I most closely identify with.  But festivals of light in the darker corners of the year appear in many traditions.

We live in an age of growing awareness of other faiths and traditions, learning early and often that there are many ways of being and believing.  What results for many of us, I think, is a personal amalgam of spiritual significance. Among the various beliefs that populate our consciousness, some we embrace entirely, others we observe in part.  Some we greet with a respectful bow, while with others we have only a nodding acquaintance.  And some have receded from our practice altogether. The idea of a homogeneous holiday seems inconceivable to me.

Perhaps December is an opportunity to create festivals of light that bring peace and meaning to each of us.

So here is my prompt for today:  What does this season signify to you? What mixture of faith, fable, and fairy tale greets you each year at this point on our yearly trip around the sun? 

How does this writing prompt advent calendar work?
This entry was posted in Writing, Writing Prompt Advent Calendar 2013. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to 3 December – Holy Days

  1. Marie says:

    What does the season signify to you? Looking behind the panels of the advent calendar for the surprise gift, the sweet, dark chocolate that is God. Finding God who is already there. Shattering the illusion of separation. Being released from prison and captivity. Returning to innocence. Remembering purity. For for everyone. To become once again like a child.


  2. Jill says:

    I am deeply awed and inspired by the natural world. For me, this natural world includes human behavior and culture. When I celebrate Christmas (as my father’s ancestors did) or Hanukkah (as my mother’s did), I honor the stories by recalling them. But what I am really celebrating is the fact that a human story has been passed down through generations for centuries, that it has been such an important story to so many people, and that it has given rise to the warmth of shared traditions. So, your questions have made me see that in a way, this season, with its traditions, signifies to me the good fortune of being human. Thank you for prompting this insight!


    • Melissa says:

      Wow – thank you for sharing this insight, Jill! It underscores for me just how ageless, potent, and rich stories are. They survive so many changes, appeal to so many in so many ways. I agree – we honor stories by recalling them, retelling them.


  3. Christina says:

    Hi Melissa, great idea to do an advent calendar of writing prompts, and thanks Maria G for inviting me to take a look!

    I love fairy tales and fables, and I have faith. But are they actually part of my Christmas? I’ve never really thought until now:

    My Christmas is all about home, place and the people who are closest to me. It’s about setting out the nativity scene inherited from my grandma, with the wooden stable my grandfather made from a 1940’s fruit crate; there’s still the remains of a label on the back of it. Most of our decorations are simple – misteltoe, hanging in doorways, holy with berries on top of picture frames and of course a Christmas tree. When all the gold and red autumn leaves outside have suddenly shriveled and gone brown, it makes sense to celebrate what’s still green. It looks fresh, and new: hope.
    At some point over Christmas, when being inside gets too much, we will all walk out together. It’s not usually a white Christmas in our low-lying part of Yorkshire, but the December air still tastes of snow and is as refreshing to the soul as a glass of iced water is to the body, on a hot summer’s day. Not many who were part of my childhood Christmases are here now. But I carry on in their footsteps, and my children follow in mine.
    My Christmas is quiet; it’s about rest and peace. But just as importantly, it’s about continuing to walk on.


  4. Maria G. says:

    Last night I had all of these thoughts. They were elegant and inspired…or maybe I was just tired;) I remembered some, though it is decidedly much less inspired. My discoveries reside here: http://bob0630.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-following-was-written-for-advent.html
    Maybe I need to come over to WordPress soon;)


    • Melissa says:

      If that was less inspired, your thoughts must have been amazing! That was great to read, Maria the collector. I’ll even forgive you for having the impeccable timing of posting just before I hit the ‘reply’ button to Christina’s post so that my responses are all muddled. I’ll go sort that out right now.

      But before I do – I think you’ve hit on something. It’s the collection of so many traditions and symbols and beautiful stories coming together – like ornaments on a Christmas tree – that I really enjoy. You’ve described it so…well, so Maria like! Thank you!


    • Christina says:

      Love your collector of traditions theme, Maria. Germany at Christmas sounds so … Christmassy! And I’m glad you drew the line at the Elf on the Shelf for your your collection of traditions!


      • Maria G. says:

        Chrisina, You really should go to Germany at Christmas…You could practically walk there!:) It is very Christmassy…and the mulled wine adds a LOT to the festivities;)


    • Marie says:

      I enjoyed your post on traditions. I was never in on the meaning of Elf on a Shelf. I’m so glad to know the tradition and meaning now. Happy up coming birthday to you! Sending you a little thunder. 🙂


  5. Melissa says:

    Welcome Christina! How I enjoyed reading this. I could really picture so very much. Your last sentence is lovely. Thank you for sharing a glimpse into your Yorkshire Christmas.


    • Christina says:

      Thanks for the welcome! It was a great prompt, not a subject I’d have chosen, but when I got going it really engaged me – and made me think quite deeply. Looking forward to tomorrow’s 🙂


  6. Melissa says:

    Many thoughts here. But I can’t quite find what I want to say. I guess I’m glad I wrote on this, but I suppose for this one, the scribbles stay in the notebook. Perhaps this was a bit more than a five minute question.


  7. Pingback: Discovering Christmas After Leaving my Faith | IndeedIAm

  8. Maria G. says:

    I’m so enjoying doing this for myself and reading others’ thoughts! Thanks to you all and your great perspectives on this project.


  9. ahh, Magic abounds! childhood memories of the Advent calendars, tinkling bells, that spun when candles were placed underneath, laying down in the dark and waking to sparkling blanket of snow over everything, icycles tinkling in tree bones, the trees themselves, how could they come back to life as they do? The family drives to see magic transformations and machinations of shop windows sharing tiny scenes, being able to looki in on a whole villages,perhaps a river and a train running through it, the fabric of community and mystery come to life. Magic in the darkness – The Nutcracker – all we don’t know – happening in the dream time – a mirror, The church celebration I experienced as a celebration of a good man’s (AKA as Jesus) really meant (a good person(s) beginnings, and the gold chalice and colored voyives and gold cloth and inscense and holy water all a magic ritual, a story stacked on other story’s Innana, Nuit, and down , down, into the magic of the dark we go for rebirth and celebration of life. Thank you for the prompt and using my photo 🙂 I’ve caught you all on the second cycle of Dec. / 2014. Peace and Goodwill to All.


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