How many times will you say “Merry Christmas” to someone this holiday season?

And what exactly do you mean when you say it?

Is it short for “Hope you have a great time”?

Or “Peace on Earth, goodwill to all”?

Or is it about commemorating the birth of a great spiritual, if not mythical, teacher?

Or do you avoid the expression altogether by simply wishing people “Happy Holidays”? If so, what exactly is your message with that greeting?

Winter Solstice noon sunrise 2012 on the Bering Sea. (Bering Land Bridge National Preserve/Wikimedia Commons)

And, finally, I wonder how many celebrate this season’s festivities keeping their true origins, the Winter Solstice, in mind? Writes Alan E. Donant in Christmas and the Winter Solstice: “Each of us feels the pull of the winter solstice. Sometimes we call it the stress of the season, but perhaps we are also sensitive to the great cosmic forces involved. At this season each of us undergoes a new beginning, a new initiation, as the god within stirs, however slightly.”

Not surprisingly, all of these festivities are further rooted in the movement of the sun. Writes Dorothea Hamann in Winter Solstice — Gift of Illumination, who points out that the word “solstice” means “the standing still of the sun”:

“On the night of December 21/22, the sun reaches its southernmost point. Were it to remain in the south, it would mean death for living beings in the northern hemisphere. Thus we greet the returning sun as a “savior.” On the night when it begins its northward journey, the constellation Virgo, the celestial virgin, appears on the eastern horizon at midnight and is therefore, astrologically, the ascendant. This coordinates with the myth of the various saviors of humanity, immaculately conceived and born from a virgin. Later, the sun symbolically sacrifices its life on the cross when it passes over the equinoctial point at the spring equinox, an apparent descent as seen from the southern hemisphere and an ascent in the northern sky. The focal points of the year — the four sacred seasons of the solstices and equinoxes — affect the consciousness of all humanity; and no matter on which day the festivals fall, they can provide gateways for the properly attuned heart and mind, allowing us to enter the forecourt of the temple of learning and life.”

Personally, I think the cosmic forces at play do affect us, especially if we attune ourselves to them, and that the “Merry Christmas” and “Happy Holidays” greeting is a way of expressing the universal principle of harmony, of peace and love.

Let’s carry the spirit of the season forward throughout the year.

Let harmlessness be the keynote of your life, both in thought and action, every day.

May your first morning thought each day be ‘Peace & Love, goodwill to all living beings.’

Peace & love to all.

— Jillian

Photo: On Christmas Day, the Christ Candle in the centre of the Advent wreath is traditionally lit in many church services. (Source: Wikipedia)