ADVENT, the days leading up to Christmas can be anywhere from 22 to 28 days depending on the calendar. I have an Advent Calendar which has only 24 places to count down the days. Someone didn't do their homework. Advent is the preparation for Christ's birth. Variously a time of fasting, penance, self-reflection, and for churches to baptize and welcome members into the church.
It begins on the Sunday nearest November 30, which is the Feast of St. Andrew, and of course, the eve of Christ's birthday ends the period. Our churches in Maine honor the Advent Season with special services and musical presentations.
The Portland Symphony does a wonderful Pre-Christmas Concert - "The Magic of Christmas" - featuring Handel's Halleluia Chorus and many other traditional and lesser known pieces.
WINTER SOLSTICE is the shortest day and longest night of the year. To me it is an astronomical event which heralds the lengthening of daylight. It is the day that the sun is the nearest in it's orbit to earth, and actual "solstice" lasts only a moment in time. To some cultures, such as Wiccans, it is a significant day in their religion. It is not recognized as a "holy day" or holiday in this country.
As I write this, Christmas has already come and gone. But Christmas is universally accepted as the time of Christ's birth and whether you are Christian by faith or not, I think you would have to agree, Christ was the most influential being ever to walk the earth. I heard an atheist speak today who would disagree that the influence was all good, but I believe in Christ's goodness and beneficience. Christmas is a joyous and beautiful Holy Day.
NEW YEAR - YES, January 1, 2012 begins a new year. We all know what has gone in 2011, but we don't know what is in store for 2012. SO what can I write? I can refer you to my other blog, MUSICLIFE, which is about Auld Lang Syne and New Years celebrations. I can tell you I wish you a very happy, healthy and peaceful year, which is traditional. I can also wish you great prosperity. Not in the financial sense, although that would be good, too, but in the literal definition, which is to bloom, grow, luxuriate; to flourish and become successful. I guess that is the best I can do regarding 2012. So from Maine -
PEACE, GOOD HEALTH, HAPPINESS, and PROSPERITY TO YOU IN 2012.