Happy Holidays: Defining Time and Ritual for a Pre-Modern Audience
This service will explore the problem of defining time in an age before mechanical clocks. We will discuss the creation of the calendar and how time can be manipulated for a variety of audiences. In addition, Dr. Morrow will unpack some of the roots of various holidays including Lupercalia, the spring holidays and the vernal equinox.
Dr. Morrow touched on the subject of time and the calendar structure in regards to holidays, but her primary focus was the way in which our celebration of holidays this time of year has developed over time and different ways these significant periods are celebrated. Two of the major holidays she discussed that have been celebrated through time were Lupercalia and Easter.
Lupercalia is actually the ancient Roman celebration in which there would be parades and feasts all day long celebrating the coming renewal of spring and fertility. Young women of the community would write their names on little pieces of paper and place them into a bowl. The young men would then draw names and they would be paired with that person for the next year, and often times this led to marriage.
As Christianity made its way into Rome this festival was absorbed and given a more Christian spin in order to convert the people of Rome and to discourage the celebration of their Pagan gods and Goddesses. In 496 C.E., Pope Gelasius changed Lupercalia from the 15th to the 14th and renamed it after the legendary St. Valentine in an attempt to stop the pagan celebration. Gelasius had hoped people would emulate the lives of saints. The Church replaced Lupercus with St. Valentine and recast Cupid into a cherub.
Next she spoke of the subject of Easter. Most of us are familiar with the story of the life of Jesus and the reason Christians of the world honor this time of year.
Hindu has a similar story to that of Jesus in the writings describing the life of Krishna. Some believe that inspiration for some of the stories and events from the life of Jesus are actually adapted from the stories and history of Krishna.
Yet another possible origin of the Easter celebration is described partially by the writings of Gerald L. Berry, author of “Religions of the World.” He wrote:
“About 200 B.C. mystery cults began to appear in Rome just as they had earlier in Greece. Most notable was the Cybele cult centered on Vatican hill …Associated with the Cybele cult was that of her lover, Attis (the older Tammuz, Osiris, Dionysus, or Orpheus under a new name). He was a god of ever-reviving vegetation. Born of a virgin, he died and was reborn annually. The festival began as a day of blood on Black Friday and culminated after three days in a day of rejoicing over the resurrection.”
With the information Dr. Morrow shared you can see that many religions have a similar story and reasons for celebrating this season. Often times this leads to many disagreements and conflicts over whose story is “the right” one. However, these conflicts are not present in all religious communities. That is one of the many positive aspects of the Unitarian Universalist faith.
Our second Priciple states our “Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations.” Included in this acceptance is the recognition that each of us arrives here from a different spiritual path, but no matter what path has brought you here or what beliefs you hold on to from a previous tradition you are welcome here.
Share your story and grow with us in your personal spiritual journey while having the support and acceptance of others who attend also on a responsible search for truth and meaning (which happens to be our third Principle). There is no right or wrong answer and no judgment for whatever holidays you or your family choose to recognize. Join us in culturing an environment of love acceptance for all people and their opinions.