Over these last days, I marveled at the Merry Christmas wishes that came my way from those who don't celebrate it. The Hindu cashier at my local grocery store, shyly but so earnestly wished me Merry Christmas. The Omani and Emarati border guards in their broken English wished us the same as we passed out Christmas chocolate while driving through checkpoints. Scores of Christmas facebook messages or emails from non-Christians and Christians who really aren't Christians, flowed in.
What makes someone decide to celebrate Christmas or any of these epic holidays? What makes someone eventually adopt any of these holidays as their own? What makes us wish anyone a happy festivity regardless of our different cultural or spiritual beliefs?
Is it because we somehow recognize it's all about Light? The iconic Totem Christmas tree- an EVERgreen, with its dazzling light, glistening colors and abundance of gifts is an eternal sacred geometry triangle symbol aspiring upwards to that star at its peak, mirroring the kundalini yoga's ascent into the upper chakras of illumination and enlightenment. It is promised that the light awaits us, no matter how dark, hopeless and lost it all seems.
We know it's not just children who get all excited about Christmas or any Light festival coming! On the days leading up to the new moon of Diwali- celebrating light vanquishing darkness- my local Hindu grocers are dressed up with saris, bindis and bubbly and extra happy. Whether in Morocco, Paris, Egypt or the UAE, I have been part of the baking of sweets, lighting of lanterns and full-on celebrations of Eid al-Fitr, as the new moon returns and the completion of a month-long fasting period is celebrated. My Jewish friends all over the world busily and enthusiastically prepare for Chanukkah each year as they ready for the 8-days of lighting their menorah. A chance holiday to Singapore happened during the Buddhist Festival of Lights where buses were packed heading to the temples to celebrate. New Moon, Full Moon and Solstice ceremonies are in abundance amongst indigenous tribes and my spiritually oriented friends and colleagues, whether it be meditations, full-moon drumming, gonging or dancing away.
But what if the Light doesn't return? We know that Christmas can be one of the most depressing and dreaded days for people who don't have anyone dear to celebrate with or even if they do, are still reeling in the pain of a loveless past. That promised Light feels too unreachable and there is nothing to rejoice in. Instead of a soup kitchen on Christmas Day, why not a Hope Kitchen?
Every spiritual teacher tells us that we all seek to discover our Divine Nature and that its Essence is Light and Love. In the density and everydayness of our being human, these sparkling, joyful markers come around in cycles to remind us, ground us and strengthen this quest in a way we can all universally relate to, clearly despite cultural and religious differences. So as we all ready to celebrate the Gregorian Calendar's New Year and its promise of Rebirth and Renewal, may we also remember that there are other calendars observed with a different New Year Day. We are all acknowledging and celebrating the same thing: reflection on the past- what worked and what didn't- and a chance we all give ourselves to live more fully in that Light and Love! Happy, this version of New Year!!