Have you seen anyone's home with a candle burning on Christmas Eve or an evening in early January?
I must admit that I LOVE all things Christmas, especially the Spirit of Christmas! For me, Christmas is also a time to connect with my heritage and to keep traditions that I learnt from my grandparents, alive! I am very proud of my Ukrainian ancestry and probably owe my LOVE of Christmas to the amount of time I spent with my grandparents, but mostly my baba (grandmother), who shared with me some of the amazing traditions and history of this holiday.
Much of the Ukrainian traditions are steeped in honoring the birth of the savior and the religious Christian faith. You may know of the history behind the 12 'Meatless' dishes of Ukrainian Christmas Eve, or that the meal would be served after the animals are feed and the first star appears,... but do you know of the tradition of lighting a candle and placing it in your window before you sit down to eat?
As my Baba told, the candle was a very important tradition of Christmas supper. As a child growing up they had very little, but the holidays always brought out the very best. Whether it was the best linens to set the table, those extra special recipes that came out only for the holidays, or the bright human spirit that shines with love during this time. (I can still remember the twinkle in my Baba's eyes as she would talk about her beloved spirit of the holiday and traditions!) The lit candle was to amplify all the goodness of the holiday spirit. It symbolized love, peace, hope, kindness and good will towards others. It was an invitation to join in magic of the season; for any homeless stranger, lost/lonely soul and even for disgruntled family members or friends. The candle burned through all conflict, all hurt, all fear,... revealing only light and love.
This year, our Christmas looks very different. Perhaps you have differing traditions, differing beliefs and don't celebrate this time of year as Christmas,... and that is completely okay! However, in a world that has been wrapped in fear, depression and loss for so much of this year,... I ask you 'Would you share the light of your human spirit?' Would you project your love, peace, hope, kindness and good will towards others? Would you lit a candle and put it in your window? Together, in community, we can conquer all!! It is my HOPE that sharing this precious tradition with you, that together we can burn through all conflict, all illness, all fear,... knowing that we are NOT alone!
Please share this and spread the word,... and may the Spirit of the Holidays be your magical light, not just for the holidays, but to carry with us into 2021!