September 2018
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question: winter holidays


icon: "christmassy (tealight candles in glass jars - red, yellow, green)"


What winter holiday(s) do you celebrate? What do they mean to you?

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Comments
slinkslowdown ══╣╠══
Just secular Christmas.

Doesn't really mean anything in particular to me.
clash
basil_00 ══╣clash╠══
I celebrate thanksgiving and christmas, because my family does. I care little about thanksgiving, because several of the things it's associated with, pilgrims & natives-wise, have been revealed to be false over the years, and I don't know if there's anything left to celebrate. We just all just agree to say fuck all that and push the idea just to be thankful for all you have to be thankful for in general; some people do that and that's fine with me.

Having said that, I love the standard thanksgiving dinner, so I do enjoy "celebrating" it by stuffing full of stuffing, et al.

Christmas has also kinda dropped off. I've never truly believed in god or Santa Claus, so that never really mattered, but I still find some comfort in the feeling of christmas. I hate the commercialism, and I don't care that it's Jesus' fake birthday (chosen by the church to make winter suck less), but it is one of few things that makes me happy because it's making other people happy.

Christmas spirit is a real thing in the sense that millions of people decide to be in a good mood for a little while.

I also used to love it for the presents, but in recent years that's dwindled due to both my diminishing list of things I want and my ability to buy the things I want for myself at any time.

So now it means hot buttered rum, the movies "A Christmas Story", "Elf", and "It's a Wonderful Life", and sometimes euchre/poker, and that's enough to look forward to.
basil_00 ══╣╠══
hoooooooo...
that's longer than it needed to be.
ecosopher ══╣╠══
We don't really have any holidays in winter, although I do look forward to the shortest day, usually!

Christmas falls in summer for us, just before midsummer. Right now, it's warming up, and I'm feeling that familiar sense of anticipation and excitement of Christmas holidays, and now we live in a seaside town: the beach, warm afternoon breezes. YAY.
fairy tale
kehlen ══╣fairy tale╠══
New Year. Family times, smell of pine (we always buy a live tree even if decorating it has become optional since everyone's grown up), being cozy when it's cold outside, nice food, late candlelit dinner and presents. Which reminds me that I should start thinking about them.

Never new beginnings though.
keiwontia ══╣╠══
None.
Nothing.

If other people are gathering and they invite me, then I might attend. That's the extent of it.
lilywolfsolomon ══╣╠══
The word 'celebrate' is important to me and holidays in my family are often so hectic and almost rote in some ways that I wouldn't exactly use that word to describe them. Celebration to me is a spiritual thing and a tapping into awe. I celebrate snowstorms. I have often celebrated solstice with some of my Boston friends. We'd gather and set intentions and do ritual and that is a celebration because it connects me more deeply with what is going on inside me and what I want. I want to bring more genuine celebration into my life, to find others who are interested in a somewhat more introverted/spiritual celebration.
Halloween - me - haunted
kehlen ══╣Halloween - me - haunted╠══
I quite agree that 'celebration' should come from within. If it does not, even (or maybe especially) the most beloved holidays become a burden and not a joy.
Christmas - Axial Tilt
fragbert ══╣Christmas - Axial Tilt╠══
I don't believe that the Christians' god was born on 25 December, if that's what you're asking.

I'm culturally Christian, however; I listen to carols and watch the usual tv and movie specials just as a "it's the time of the year" type of thing.

I treat the whole end-of year holiday season as a build up to my birthday, which is 31 Dec.
misc : dove photoshop
sabr ══╣misc : dove photoshop╠══
I recognize Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Years. I celebrate New Years.

Thanksgiving feels most like a traditional family event than an observed holiday. I spend my day with all of my family members on both sides, and we celebrate with food and desserts - usually dishes we only get once or twice a year. It's particularly special because my grandmother's birthday falls close to Thanksgiving.

Christmas is devoid of almost all religious undertones, and is another family tradition event. I especially like it because I get to see all the family, including extended family, and I love exchanging cherished presents with others.

New Years is my absolute favorite holiday, though I don't to much besides internally observe it. I love that everyone has a renewed spirit for New Years, and feels empowered to better their circumstance.
siduri ══╣╠══
LOL, all of them! Thanksgiving is not a huge deal, we don't go anywhere or have guests so it is not a big deal. I am still trying to sort it out this year...

BUT-the December holidays are fun! Starting with Krampus Night on the 5th, and St. Nicholas Day on the 6th. The Winter Solstice begins the Yule festival for me...I celebrate the Solstice, then do Mothernights, usually on Christmas Eve. And Christmas, of course. The 12 Days of Yule I do something called The Wild Nights which has me doing various little magical workings with candles, recording omens and so on. Always good food for the holidays-things like cardamon bread. New Year's Eve is quiet, I do divination and then New Year Day we have a special meal and a special sweet bread with a coin baked in it. I also cense the house for all 12 Nights.

And it all ends on the night of January 5th, Befana Night when I light one last candle and cense the house in anticipation of Epiphany/Little Christmas/Three Kings Day. This is the official end of the holiday season for me...

What it all means to me? It gives me a sense of quiet, solitude, something spiritual to lighten a dark period. And this is something that has evolved over the years but some of these things have been celebrated from childhood.
domestic bliss
raoin ══╣domestic bliss╠══
i grew up catholic so i've got some really fixed mental ideas about the winter holiday(s). but i've been trying to train myself out of most of that.

we'll be attempting Yule for the first time this coming december. we wanted to create a holiday for our little pagan-blended-agnostic family that would be more meaningful than just blindly following along with christmas (especially since the spiritual significance/religious background of the holiday would be meaningless to our group). waaay back in june/july i drew up a brainstorming list of things we might want to incorporate into our Yule celebration, the ways in which we might attempt to add personal/social responsibility into our activities and the reasons why we might chose one thing over another.

it's hard to do this on your own. i think that's the thing that has struck me most about developing celebrations and traditions which dont follow with the surrounding culture. because everyone around me, everything around me, all the stores and calendars and all the people are set up to do something on the 25th, and i keep having to remind myself that our dates are falling earlier. i have to keep reminding myself of all the things i need to do which wont be ready-made. i've been making up timeline lists of what needs to happen and when. but its harder to keep it on the top of my mind - constantly mentally readjusting everything from the 25th to the 21st.

i dont really know yet what this will ultimately come to mean for us. i want it to be about being together, about caring together, about marking a significant point in our solar calendar and looking toward the future year with our renewed hopes and aspirations. gifts yes, of course gifts, but only really because i couldnt ever stop myself from giving my daughter things and i love a good reason to give her something. other than "it's a day ending in -y!" i'm excited to see where this goes.
ice leaves
oubliette14 ══╣ice leaves╠══
We celebrate Christmas here. For me it is not a religious holiday. I see it as a time to get together with family and friends that I don't always get to see very often. We spend time together and enjoy good food, wine and conversation.

There are presents, yes, but they aren't the focus. We put up a tree and decorate it together. Usually make an evening of it and break out the Christmas carols and rum.

Christmas morning we do a big family breakfast and everyone helps out with cooking and cleaning.

For me, Christmas is about time spent with loved ones and being warm and happy and full of good fuzzy feelings.
kiwi ══╣╠══
I'm kinda boring. We do the Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Years routine but, as it is with most things in my family, the central discussion is usually food.

Thanksgiving is usually focused on things we're thankful for. We may or may not do a traditional dinner - we didn't for a long time but with the expansion of our family to include two people who did grow up with traditional turkey dinners, we now do an every other year sort of thing. Thanksgiving also means it's mom's chance to turn on Christmas music and it's game time. We're a board game family.

Christmas is something that's being adjusted a lot in recent years, with my brother having a family of his own - Christmas is becoming a family event for him so we usually have a post-Christmas brunch at some point with everyone. B and I usually celebrate on Christmas eve and I usually make a Japanese meal. We'll go over to see my parents on Christmas day and it's usually low key. With a big meal. (I also drift into the Holiday Wishes LJ community throughout December and see if I can grant anything. In years past, due to finances, it's been cards or if it's something I can make, I'll do that but one of these years I'll be able to actually fulfill a few wishes and I look forward to that.)

New Years has always been something that's been for Ben and I and we play board games and build a fire and snack throughout the night.

My family, growing up, was big on what we called FBOs - family bonding opportunities. So there are a few set traditions in my head. People always give me a hard time that our tree is up the day after Thanksgiving but when I was little, we'd put up the decorations the Saturday after Thanksgiving and have pizza and sparkling cider/champagne. It was one of my favorite things about the holiday season. We still help my parents decorate on Saturday after so the Friday after is for us to do our own thing and in the recent past it has been "get the tree up".

We've had a few years where timing is up in the air, usually because of my work schedule or my mom's (healthcare workers don't always get the days off). But this is kind of what we perceive to be our norm and what we all try for.
Pagan: Fire
ravensong ══╣Pagan: Fire╠══
I celebrate the Winter Solstice/Yule. For me, it's the celebration of the lengthening of days and the beginning of the air warming up again.
tizoo ══╣╠══
i'm not sure i could say i celebrate it as much as i enjoy it (christmas) with my family. i enjoy being around my family sometimes and that's one of those times. the good food and colorful lights aren't a bad addition. no favorite holiday anymore, though.
goddessofchaos ══╣╠══
I do Christmas only because my parents and some of my friends celebrate it - it doesn't mean anything to me.

Yule means more, but I don't usually do a big celebration. My birthday is on 23 December, so I think I've always kind of resented other celebrations as they cause people to forget my birthday.
call_me_katya ══╣╠══
Thanksgiving doesn't really exist in the UK/Ireland. Christmas is a big thing though and I still get excited deep down inside about it the same way I did as a child. We give and receive gifts, yes but it's more abstract things that excite me. I love looking at the lights of Christmas trees in neighbours' houses, going for walks and night and just feeling the peace and quiet around me. I love the feeling of finishing your shopping and knowing you don't have to leave the house for about two days. The familiarity of the TV schedule, showing films you've loved for over 25 years and still love because you haven't really changed that much! I don't usually go to carol services but would sometimes watch them on TV, and sing to myself, feeling emotional. This year my choir should be doing a Christmas concert and I imagine that will feel special to me. I partly believe in the Christian celebration and partly just because the time of year feels very important to me [I'm learning more about the Pagan side of things]. I guess it's what I've made it for myself, inside my own head!
chillychilly22 ══╣╠══
Funny you ask this question because I've been in the process of redefining what the winter holidays mean for me as of late.

Because I work at a hospital, I have to sacrifice which holiday I would like to spend in a hospital tending to patients. The last 7 years I've worked Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Initially I didn't mind so much because I lived at home with my parents and so I would get to spend some time, even if a few hours, with them but since they have moved to Florida and my sister New York, I'm by myself. Also crazy New Year's parties have become a thing of the past because most of friends are no longer interested.

I'm kinda at a loss because they both aren't as special as they used to be. Ultimately, the deciding factor is that I do NOT want to be at work when I enter the New Year. Something about being there doesn't feel like a fresh and hopeful way to the start the New Year, but even that doesn't hold a lot of weight anymore.

And thus, the redefining. It just so happens I'm actually really inspired to do holiday activities, etc right now, which has never been the case. I don't know where this holiday spirit came from, but I'm sure it has to do with my change of overall outlook on life. I'm feel more appreciative these days.
choco_chippie ══╣╠══
I celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas because everyone around me does. Maybe I'm just jaded or maybe it's my dysthymia talking, but Christmas means an obligation to buy presents that people don't really want, receive things I don't really need, and pressure to be in group gatherings that drain me. Thanksgiving is a time when I prepare myself for the drunken "Haha oh you vegetarians are so stupid" comments when I only eat side dishes. I am always so relieved when it's all over.
kriskabelle ══╣╠══
My family celebrates the typical Christmas/New Years. We have dinners on both where the entire extended family gets together to eat and the young ones exchange gifts. Every year. I'm not a big fan of that.

Personally and privately, I celebrate Yule.
plantgirl ══╣╠══
I am a huge fan of Thanksgiving. It is my favorite holiday. To me it means being inclusive wherever possible, being with chosen family, finding ways to be generous and giving even in the most humble of circumstances, and to have the humility to accept other people's love and inclusion when I am the one seeking them.

Also important is the winter solstice. My father and I always celebrated the solstice with a bottle of champagne and a small meal of tasty food. An important part of the celebration is attempting to get the cork to clear the house when you open the bottle. That's important. So is getting slightly tipsy because only two people are drinking an entire bottle of bubble. :)

My father died two years ago but I will continue our tradition and hope to include others in it in the future.

Which leads to Christmas. My father's birthday was December 24th. My half-siblings would join us on that day and we'd celebrate my father's birthday, break for our holiday meal, then celebrate Christmas. Then my siblings would leave to spend the 25th with their mother's side of the family, and my father & I would hang out & eat leftovers & maybe watch movies. With his death there are now many Big Feelings. I do not know how they will sort out over time.

I have no religious beliefs around Christmas, but I adore the carols, the lights, sappy christmas tales, people's attempts to be giving, and decorating my own tree whenever I am able to have one. When I was a child it was my mother's tradition to get me a new ornament each year. I have not been able to continue this tradition as an adult, but I have all of my childhood ornaments and they have great sentimental meaning for me. Plus there is an art to making the tree look the way I like christmas trees to look.

New Year's Eve often ends up being a lonely holiday for me. However I like the sense of a clean slate that comes with New Year's Day, even if it's a fiction based on a calendar.
Miaow! =^.^=
song_of_copper ══╣Miaow! =^.^=╠══
What we have in my family tends to be called 'Christmas', though we aren't Christian. I'd like to develop some more meaningful, personal, spiritual elements in how I mark time, but I'm not sure that that will result in outward ritual: perhaps more in terms of the *way* I do things/think about things.

The bits of 'Christmas (?!)' that I love are: extended time spent with loved ones, doing enjoyable domestic things (especially food-related), and very carefully choosing gifts for people. Dark cosy nights as well - cold weather - the age-old feeling of being safe inside, cocooned against the mystery of a winter night. (I think I'm going to miss the fireplace that we had in our old house - all we have here is a non-working gas fire!! Time to get some candles to put on the hearth...!)

Ooh, I just thought of another good thing: when I am working in the 2nd hand bookshop and people are buying books as gifts for their loved ones. Very satisfying to help someone find the thing they're looking for or when they spontaneously tell me why they've chosen a book and their eyes light up. :-)

New Year tends to upset me (I find it melancholy; my 'optimistic new beginning' time of year tends to be Autumn). I go through fear in January about whether the fresh year will be a good one - sometimes grief in a way, waving goodbye to the year just gone. This year has seemed to pass very quickly and has been a strange mixture, emotionally. But I've learned a good few important things that should help me, I hope, to greet 2015 with an open mind. :-)

Haha, long comment is long!!
druid/treehugger
meri_sielu ══╣druid/treehugger╠══
I celebrate both the winter solstice and Christmas but for different reasons. Christmas is what I grew up with and I recognise it for the family aspect of togetherness but not any religious reasons. That's what I celebrate the Solstice for, and it means more to me spiritually than Christmas does, I see it as a turn of the season, the energy of the sun being reborn and the return of power to the light.
raidingparty ══╣╠══
Thanksgiving: Between my uncle's Bed & Breakfast, my other uncle's catering business, my cousin's chef training, and my grandmother's degree in home economics (yes, really), there is no way you can grow up in this family and not know how to cook.
It's a time to feast, to show off cooking, and to welcome people to the table.
Except this time the family is different. Most years I join my family in California for a week. Between the aforementioned B&B going up for sale and my dad and s'mom flying to Atlanta this year, I'm staying put. Will be joining my sister's fiancee's family. Which means I'm unsure about inviting orphans along. :/ Will still definitely cook wonderful things, though.
More good in-family news, two sections of the family with a "cooled" relationship will get together on Friday. I was worried about potential slights either way, but I think that's taken care of.

Solstice: This one isn't really my gig directly, I tend more conventional, but I have a bunch of pagan friends (see above). To that end, when invited, I enjoy getting together with them to recognize the darkest night of the year, and the other degrees of significance they attach to it.

Christmas: With all of my family having moved West over the last few years, excepting the aforementioned sister and my newly-discovered sweetheart, this has been literally all across the map. (Assuming said map is of the "lower 48").
We've celebrated it at the beginning of December when it was convenient (combined with my being West for Thanksgiving), all the way through the beginning of the year (as I have a handful of Orthodox friends). I usually associate it more with my father's circle than my mothers', but because I'm not coming for Thanksgiving we're definitely visiting the Reverend Mothers for Christmas.
What does it mean? I like gifts, but of late it's been more an excuse to treat myself than expecting anyone to get stuff for me; the gift of time has been the most precious to get from a person. That being said, I love finding things for people. "The Nightmare Before Christmas", Victoriana, and Christmas music (studiously avoided until the day after Thanksgiving). Eggnog. Mostly spending time together. Going to church with family, and inviting any holiday orphans.
Despite being culturally Christian, I'm having some odd shifts about my actual beliefs, and definitely doubt both the date of the birthday and the significance thereof (Easter should be a bigger holiday for Christians). A good excuse to generate good will towards all. There was more, I'm sure.

New Year's Eve: Social butterfly, too many options. Usually re-establishing connections with people I haven't given much time, particular foods, champagne toast, and 100% more kissing at midnight. (Well, there have been a few others here and there, but only recently is there a guarantee.)
Cleaning particular things, and rituals representing intentions for the new year. I realize it's arbitrary, but I might as well mark it somewhere.

New Year's Day: The previous year in review, calling everyone in my phone book (usually lasts two or three days), and going to a friend's house to invade their family reunion.

The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: In theory, I should volunteer. In practice, I usually hide away.

St. Valentine's Day: Was certain self-loving and energy-drawing practices. Is currently sharing time with partner, although there's only been the one so far.

St. Georgia's Day: Discounted chocolate, yo.
raidingparty ══╣╠══
Four other bits I remembered along the way.
"Holiday" (we all know it's Christmas) party at work: Sharing food, some US assimilation. Adding to the previous, it seems like most of my holidays revolve around sharing time with people.
"Christmas Tree Lighting" in sub-department at work: Being included in "our team".
"Season of Giving": Collecting from our condo. Statement of values and community.
Herod: Helping out with such has been a tradition with my family for years and years. I didn't plan for it last year, and found out too late that it was the very last one, so I missed out on the opportunity to share it with my sweetheart.
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.