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Hollydays: the 12 Days of Xmas: A new winter holiday for the rest of us.
Hollydays is a 12 day celebration that runs from December 21, the winter solstice, to New Years Day. It is an increasing-popular secular alternative to the squabbling winter rituals of the major faiths.
Winter fruiting plants like the eponymous Holly, Pyracantha and Toyon are common decorations as are colored lights and candles, often in a 13-stemmed Hollydays menorah, allowing Hollydays celebrations to easily pass among their religious neighbors.
What is the true meaning of Christmas? Hollyday adherents answer that it’s all about the seasons. Nobody really knows the date when Jesus was born, or when the Macabees defended the temple, they point our that these festivals have been placed near the Winter Solstice precisely because of the inherent spiritual connotations of the seasonal fluctuation of sun’s path in the sky and its effect on the earth’s climate. “As the sun retreats south along the horizon, threatening to disappear, aren’t we all reminded of our own fragile mortality?” commented one celebrant.
Despite the secular focus of Hollydays in the earth’s cycles as opposed to the anniversaries of prophets, it is not a completely flippant holiday like Festivus. or pagan revisionism like Yule or Solstice rites. Inspired by the success of Maulana Karenga’s melding of various traditions to develop Kwanzaa as a pan-African alternative to Christmas, Hollydays also incorporates bits and pieces from all of the winter holidays into a pan-human winter holiday, with a central idea being that as Humans, we are, and have always been, one people.
Each day fits into the most common cycle of modern American religious celebration and each has a related principal devoted to it, organized in an overarching theme to support this concept of global human connection. These are constructed as a quartet of trinities.
The first regards formation of community
1. Dec. 21 - Unity, the day or the actual solstice
2. Dec 22 – Compassion
3. Dec 23 – Kindness
The Second: sharing
4. Dec 24 – Hope, the actual day of Christmas Eve
5. Dec 25 – Generosity, Christmas Day
6. Dec 26 – Gratitude, Boxing Day.
The Third: personal integrity
7. Dec 27 – Truth
8. Dec 28 – Love
9. Dec 29 – Courage
And the Fourth: rebirth.
10. Dec 30 – Atonement, in a nod to Yom Kippur
11. Dec 31 – Forgiveness, New Years Eve
12. Jan 1 -- Redemption, New Years Day.
Adherents see these ideas as already resident in all of the competing celebrations, and Hollydays only as a distillation of the real underlying aspirations of all people over all times.
On each of the 12 Hollydays, they are encouraged to discuss and reflect on each of these concepts as they gather, share and feast with their friends and families, with the goal of helping to make the next year, for themselves, their families, their communities and the planet, better and more harmonious than the passing one.
For one and all, Happy Hollydays!