Jun 22 2010

Mid-Winter: What is There to Celebrate?

Published by under Meetings

In the middle of winter, traditional Maori celebrated Matariki.  This was the beginning of a new year; time to celebrate with a special hangi and then to begin planting kumara.

In the middle of winter, ancient Romans celebrated the winter solstice.  Venerators of sol invictus, the invincible sun, they marked the turning point when the sun ceased becoming weaker and colder, gaining in strength and showing light triumphing over darkness.

The early Christians took over such winter solstice celebrations, turning them into a celebration of the birth of their savior and applying what had been cyclical truth based on the seasons of nature to the one-off of that birth.

But what about us moderns? Are we so cocooned in our neon-lit, climate-controlled rooms that we have no sense any more of the rhythms of nature? Living in the shadow of the free market and global capitalism with its relentless competition, is there no place for the unproductive purposelessness of ritual and ceremony? Has Christmas, transposed to a different season here in New Zealand, lost its religious significance and become a time of family togetherness, excessive food consumption and commercial exploitation?

Our meeting on Friday 25 June is an opportunity to informally explore such questions.  Please feel free to bring and share any thoughts or ideas.

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