The next sound you hear is the winter coming. Not that it hasn't made its impact felt well in advance, but now that the solstice has come and passed, the days will start getting longer again and hope will be renewed. Which is probably why the Christian church chose to drop the celebration of Christ's birth into this spot. It's always darkest before the dawn, and all. I did a quick check, and it turns out that Bethlehem is forty-one degrees above the equator. That means that if there was a birth in that neighborhood two thousand or so years ago, it would have taken place in the nominal winter months. Coincidentally to the magic of this virgin birth was the return to light.
Pretty savvy planning on somebody's part.
Apparently, pagans had been dragging greenery into their homes as a way of acknowledging the middle of winter, so the idea of chopping down an evergreen tree and spraying it with white foam was just a stumble into the woods and back, or in terms of our current state, a stumble into Home Depot to buy a plastic tree that sings with a card made of the traditional plastic.
Pagans obviously had a thing for plastic, too.
I am not suggesting that Christians simply appropriated pagan traditions and made them their own. Instead I would suggest that there has always been a challenge bringing new into a world of old. Take peanut brittle, for example. There is absolutely no reason why I could not go out and buy two pounds of raw Spanish peanuts and a couple pounds of sugar in the middle of June. Sure, standing over a pot of boiling Karo syrup and sugar during the heat of summer would be less comforting and joyful, but the actual reason is that this ritual belongs in winter. Like so many things of this season, peanut brittle comes but once a year.
Is there a biblical reference to peanut brittle? Do residents of the planet living below the equator feel challenged by having all this wintry goodness shoveled into their summer? I have a couple of weeks off. Maybe I'll look into it.