Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Peace For Yuletide

I was researching today the origins of the word 'Yuletide'. Tide was easy... this means season, or time. Time for what, though?
The word 'yule' has contested origins. Most sources merely state that the meaning of 'yuletide' is 'the Christmas season' or 'the period extending from Dec 24 to Jan 6'. It seems that the 'christianisation' (and commercialisation) of this festival has resulted in a loss of meaning, not just of the event itself, but even the literary roots of its name. In fact, the Oxford dictionary reportedly will only accept the meaning of yuletide that relates specifically to Christmas, despite the fact that the winter festival that Yuletide originates from predates Christ by a few centuries.

So what could I find out? Traditionally, yuletide marks the festival of the winter solstice, when the sun reaches its southernmost point. Some believe that the word yule has its origins in the Nordic jol (wheel), which may be derived from ancient Indo-European word meaning 'to go around', the assumption being that yuletide refers to the turning of a season, or the time at which the year is at its low point, ready to come round again.

Whatever it truly means, my research today has served to highlight that our contemporary society has lost the ability its predecessors had to mark with celebration the passing of time, to join in meaningful festivities that bring together communities in rejoicing in the most mundane of daily and yearly tasks, to find value in the ebb and flow of communal life.

On a personal level, I am entering this festive season with these things on my mind, having made some significant decisions over the past couple of weeks. Last Friday, I resigned from my employment, and will finish up there next Friday. I have been working three days a week for the past (almost) 18 months, while the girls have attended day care locally, at the town day care centre initially, and more recently with a fantastic home family day carer. I have decided to return to being a full time, stay at home mother, wife, home maker and woman. Our family is looking forward to this change, and I am so excited about settling into a precious rhythm with the girls, and being able to spend more time learning, exploring and creating with them.

It feels like the end of an era for me, one that was rewarding in a lot of ways, but one that also had its challenges and limitations. It truly does feel as if our family life is coming into a more settled, peaceful period, kind of like the wheel at its low point, ready to come round again. I very much look forward to seeing what the next turn of the wheel will bring.

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