Today it’s December 21st and soon Christmas is here. Various kinds of Midwinter cermonies have existed around the world, different cultures and different times have had various ways of celebrating or notified Midwinter, the shortest day of the year, and the return to longer and lighter days of the year. Last year I wrote about it on this weblog, “Midwinter cermonies of light and kindness – A mix of traditions”. I also wrote the text: “The birth of Jesus – When, where and perceptions of purpose?” In those texts I tried to explain how we humans have met and mixed and merged our various ideas and notions through centuries and millennia, but also by making up new descriptions and traditions. That’s how our humanity works.
We are in a time of year where we are expected to be good to each other, showing kindness and mutual respect. Some celebrate Christmas while others do not. If we do that it varies how it’s done. Here in Sweden some go to Christ Mass in church, others do not, some watch Disney and Karl Bertil Jonson’s Christmas Eve on TV, while others do not. Most people have tradtional dishes on the Christmas table: ham, saussages, mustard, Jansson’s temptation, herring, cabbage, apple purré. Beer, schnapps and wine are common drinks, but also water and a kind of soda called Julmust/Christmas Must. Coca Cola tried to introduce themselves as a Swedish bevarage some years ago, but they couldn’t match the popularity of Julmust. One big problem is that too many like the alcohol too much, and don’t know when to stop. This has led to many domestic problems such as partner battering, child abuse, car accidents and rapes. We see the same problems every year. Therefore I implore all adults and teenagers who might read this, try to be a bit careful with the booze, you won’t turn happier or more attractive if you drink too much, only more pathetic. Try to be wise.
Another common tradition is the decorated Christmas fir tree. In some families they dance around the tree, in others we do not, but the Christmas gifts are often put under it. It is also common if the children are small to have a Santa Claus/Father Christmas coming to visit with a sack of gifts. Saint Nikolas of Myra/Izmir saved a family from selling their daughters into prostitution by giving them money. Christmas gifts have existed for centuries. Read more about that in my text from last year, “Midwinter cermonies of light and kindness – A mix of traditions”. In the early and middle 1800’s the Swedish bourgois homes were visited by a Christmas Ram instead of Father Christmas. The poem “Tomten”/The Gnome” by Viktor Rydberg from1881 is also still a loved piece which evoke feelings in the Swedish soul: “Midvinternattens köld är hård, stjärnorna gnistra och glimma, alla sova i enslig gård, djupt under midnatts timma. Månen vandrar sin tysta ban, snön lyser vit på fur och gran. Snön lyser vit på taken, endast Tomten är vaken”. If I interpret that first part of the poem into English it would go roughly like this: “The Midwinter cold is harm, the stars twinkle with power, everyone sleeps on lonely farm, deep in the midnight hour. Silent the moon its path will stir, the snow shines white on pine and fir. The snow shines white on the roofs, only the Farm Gnome moves”. With this Midwinter poetry I wish you all a Very Merry Christmas.
Anders Moberg, December 21st 2013.