How do I plan to celebrate Christmas? As many Southern Californians know, this is the best time of year to garden, and I am lucky enough to live in the Southland. Pagan that I am, I'll celebrate by planting the spring greens in my garden -- cabbages, chard, broccoli, cauliflower, and as many varieties of lettuce as I can find. Planting is prayer. Oh, and I'll hang a wreath on the door, and light some candles, and share a glass of wine with friends. I'll do this in ten days, when the Winter Solstice comes.
Cabbages and Christmas
December 21-22, the shortest day and the longest night. To me, it's an important day to celebrate. While we're debating all the political scares of the moment here at the Project, our planet continues to ride grandly around the sun as She has for billions of years. Humans may be doing our best to screw Earth up, but right now She still generously gives us that moving platform in space. Right now Her axis is angled away from the sun, which means that our hemisphere is getting its last few days of diminishing light. But right after the solstice, the hours of sunlight increase again. Plants love the cool rainy weather and the lengthening days. They remind us gently that Earth is giving us one more year, one more shot.
Today's Christian reconstructionists want to do away with anything in "Christmas" that smacks of plants and sunlight. Down with Christmas trees, they say. Away with wreaths on the door. Off with their heads! And no wonder. Our traditional "Christmas" really is a pagan festival, that the ancients draped in greens so they could celebrate how plants love the light.
But hey -- the early Christians were the ones who set it up this way. That December 25 date of Jesus's birth was set arbitrarily by the early Church, to utilize an older framework of Roman festivals, especially the sun worship that Emperor Constantine was dedicated to. In fact, nobody knows for sure what day (or even what year) Jesus was born, although lots of historians have their theories.
Planting cabbages and lettuce expresses my hope that humanity will figure out how to undo the damage we've done to our planet. Hope that the American people can undo the damage done to democracy. Hope that the "gay community" will spend more time cooperating and less time in-fighting. So Merry Cabbage and a Sunny New Year, everybody. And may all your Christmases be green.