Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere: Finding Meaning in the Festive Season

There are many traditions surrounding Christmas and Advent from all around the world, however my experience with Advent has been all about presents and cheap chocolate behind little cardboard doors. Despite the fact that most advent calendars supply a present for every day leading up to Christmas, Advent isn’t about the presents – they are they happy fringe benefits – and it isn’t about cheap chocolate. Amazingly, Christmas is not just about presents either (sorry for the sarcasm!).

Advent and Christmas has been around long enough that I think it is pretty safe to say that the event that was anticipated with such excitement was not originally the coming of Santa’s sleigh laden with gifts. We all know the original reason for celebrating Christmas is the birth of baby Jesus, but in a culture that is no longer predominantly Christian this appears to have become a story associated with Christmas, rather than the origin of the celebration.

I no longer identify with being a practising Christian myself, but it is important to me that the origins of a celebration that is so dear to people all over the world are not overlooked. I also seem to have developed the affliction of always looking for meaning in celebrations and festivals – I can’t just celebrate something ‘just because’, although that is the Australian way! This sometimes makes things very difficult for me, particularly when seasonal festivals clash (don’t get me started on Halloween!) I write this blog from Australia, and Christmas for us falls at a time when the weather is so warm that we are all wearing little more than swimmers and shorts so images of Santa in his winter woollies and reindeer and snowmen are out of place here. Baby Jesus is almost an after thought, glimpsed on the odd Christmas card, in shop-window nativity scenes and outside of churches.

So I cannot help but ask myself, if Christmas is a Christian celebration by origin, coinciding with the northern hemisphere’s pagan winter solstice celebrations, and kidnapped by commercialism, is it one that is appropriate for me and my family? Every year I wish I do not have to ask myself this question, and every year I have to find new meaning and consider how to participate in Christmas, even if it is just a moment of personal introspection.

Well I have found meaning in Christmas and Advent – beyond (and inclusive of ) Christianity, commercialism and paganism. I have found meaning that honours the roots of the festival, our seasonal impulse and our own little family’s values of simplicity and joy. I’m going to share them with you, and travel the Advent journey with you each Sunday until Christmas. We’ll look at how we can make Christmas relevant in the southern hemisphere, share ideas and stories and I’d love you to join the discussion too.


6 thoughts on “Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere: Finding Meaning in the Festive Season

  1. Hi Jen

    The original roots of “Christmas” is placed at the Winter Solstice or Yule or Midwinter. When the sun is reborn from its lowest point in the sky (what christians call the birth of Jesus). From this point forwards it will begin to wax until we reach summer solstice – so coming from our inner depths and bringing the light into the world. And of course all earth celebrations involve celebrating around trees! So the christian Christmas story fits in perfectly there to cover up the pagan origins, including the angel (midwinter fairy) or star (sun) on top of the tree.

    In the Southern hemisphere it is our Summer Solstice, or Litha, or Midsummer, which is a celebration of the sun reaching its zenith in the sky, and it will slowly wane until winter solstice again where it is reborn. It is when the sun and time stand still for a moment and then it slowly dies down.

    So the christmas story doesn’t fit into the Australian context. A celebration of the summer solstice and solstice fairy is much more fitting, and is actually what is happening seasonally on the wheel of the year. This is what I celebrate. You could include Santa stories in there to fit into the themes of the supermarkets as well, just adapt them to Aussie Santa’s if you want to, there are more becoming available now. If you are christian or believe the stories they tell then I guess you celebrate ‘Christmas’ and the birth of Jesus. So Christmas in July is actually more fitting if you want to celebrate ‘Christmas’ in the christian context. Jodie has written some good articles, here is a link:

    When the christian religion started they tried to cover-up all of the pagan festivals with their own stories. This is just another classic case of their power-over-all attempts. Seems to have worked for a lot of people but a lot are seeing through the facade now.

    That’s my take anyway!

  2. Yes Jo, this is my very dilemma. How to make meaning for myself and my family in the middle of all of this. I don’t believe everything is a cover up 🙂 I believe things evolve and change over time. I don’t think there was a point in time when someone decided to say “this is how its going to be” … and things are still evolving and changing, which is why I am making meaning in christmas for myself here. As a priestess, a former Christian and an Australian mother there needs to be some happy middle ground 🙂

    • I see what you mean…I guess I am coming from an earth-based perspective. I don’t follow christian beliefs so don’t hold the need to celebrate them I guess. It is just a time for Summer Solstice for me and Santa! I am intrigued to hear if you do find a happy middle ground! xoxo

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