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Advent Candles

Pat first lit the 5 weekly Advent Candles in 2020.

Sunday 27th November 2022 at 8pm - if you fancy joining in this year the first candle is for Hope.

M says - Ar sca'th a che'ile a mhaireann na doine.

Under the shelter of each other, people survive.

Advent, definition:

“The first season of the church year leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays”.

Christmas, definition:

“The annual Christian festival celebrating Christ's birth, held on the 25th of December in the Western Church”.

Those words above could have been the beginning, middle and end of the shortest article ever written for Tara Celebrations… but it’s not quite done yet.

After a little scrutiny, there seems to be some unanswered questions about Advent and Christmas, not least being that given that the birth of the afore-mentioned Christ was about 2,000 years ago, what were people celebrating for thousands of years before that around the same date?

The Neolithic people in Ireland that, 5,000 years ago, built a chamber that is lit up by the rising sun in late December at Newgrange, for example?

Or the Roman festivals of Saturnalia or Juvenalia? (wealthy Romans also celebrated the Birth of Mithra, an ancient Persian God of Light, on December 25th).

What were the ancient Britons celebrating when they built the monuments at Stonehenge that are aligned with the rising sun near the end of December?

Come to think of it, the definition refers to the “Western Church”, which begs the question:

what were/are the Chinese celebrating at Dongzhi or the Japanese during Toji?

Both are celebrated at the end of December as are Shab-e Yalda (Iran) as well as similar celebrations by Native American tribes including the Zuni and Hopi. The plot thickens, but it is only when one realises that these are all in the Northern Hemisphere of our planet that one can begin to remotely understand what is afoot.

When we look further afield (speaking from a European perspective) and we discover that similar celebrations in the Southern Hemisphere are held towards the end of June, a pattern begins to develop and the puzzle is nearing solution.

The Incas of South America, Native Australians, New Zealanders, Asians, Africans and others all hold, or have held, festivals to mark the same time of their year wherever they are on the planet.

The time in question is Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and a time of immense importance to the ancient peoples who depended so much on Nature in the form of the Land, Weather and of course the Sun.

After the Winter Solstice, the days get longer and there is more sunlight,

which in turn feeds the plants,

which in turn feeds the animals,

which in turn feeds us humans and keeps us healthy, wealthy and indeed alive.

An ever-revolving cycle of life which always depends on the Suns return each year, the return of Light, of Hope – an event to be celebrated indeed.

So, whether you are celebrating the return of the “Sun” or the “Son” at this time of year, join us as we look forward over the next four weeks to the “Advent” of a wonderous event.

This year, of all years, I feel it’s important to have something to look forward to after months of a Global Pandemic and it's attendant illness and death. So I’ve made my own Advent Candle Wreath and invite you to join me on my journey to the Light at the end of a very Dark year.

Traditionally (i.e. in my community), there are 5 Candles in the Advent Wreath:

3 purple ones, a pink one and a white one in the centre.

The 4 coloured candles represent Hope, Peace, Joy and Love and one candle is lit each week of Advent with the final centre candle being lit on Christmas Day (or Winter Solstice Day if one prefers).