The joys and challenges of interfaith life are amplified in December —the most interfaith time of the year.
This December that volume goes up as THREE MAJOR HOLIDAYS overlap.
• Hanukkah, the Jewish festival of light, begins this year on Christmas Eve (Dec 24) and ends on New Year’s Day (Jan 1).
• Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, & its official observance run from December 24-26.
• Kwanzaa, celebrating African heritage and culture, begins Dec. 26 and ends January 1.
• Plus, December is populated with Winter Solstice on Dec. 21, the Swedish holiday of St. Lucia, bearer of light, on Dec. 13, and in Mexico and the Americas, the Catholic Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12, and more.
The month is so loaded it’s called December Dilemma. Partners can get tied up in knots deciding what holiday to celebrate with which family group and how. So the confluence of three holidays this year could be a recipe for December Disaster. As an interfaith coach, I’ve seen the season cause conflict and anxiety but also compassion.
With December here, if you’re in an interfaith relationship, you may be feeling a little sensitive right now.
Believe me, I’ve had my fair share of December Dilemmas. I have freaked out over a tree in the house. And I’ve insisted on attending Christmas Eve services at church. And, there were times I kept the holidays in separate rooms and times I merged them in one — albeit with a Jewish star topping the tree. When it felt competitive, I nixed Hanukkah gifts and made us make Christmas ones. I admit to times when I wanted to do Nothing. “Let’s not celebrate the holidays this year!” But that did not go over well with the kids. Inevitably, every year I sought to cull new and relevant meaning as an interfaith family in a multi-faith world.
I turned to philosophy for help.
I wanted the celebration of the holidays to reflect a worldview that honors my religious upbringing, my husband’s, and all our neighbors. I wanted a worldview that values tradition and loyalty but also respects reason and progress and recognizes where legend ends and history begins. I wanted a worldview that celebrates diversity and creativity and truth in many places but not a worldview that gets stuck in “all is good” when sometimes all is not good. Where was a worldview to show, not just say, how we are ALL deeply interconnected? Where was that philosophy of living?
What happened next would forever change my December.
First, I stepped out of my comfort zone, my religion, my ethnocentric worldview. I attended interfaith, inter-religious, and interspiritual conferences for educators. Then I devoured books on integral philosophy, underlining whole chapters at once. (See My Reading List) I responded to an evolutionary impulse to synthesize opposites — like theories of creation and evolution, ideas of life and death, and even measures of GDP and GNH — not just in my head, but in practice. Finally, I began designing lessons, ceremonies, and celebrations with an urge to tap a larger consciousness. And slowly, my worldview expanded.
“Our worldview is not simply the way we look at our world. It reaches
inward to constitute our innermost being, and outward to constitute the world. It mirrors but also reinforces and even forges the structures…and possibilities of our interior life. It deeply configures our psychic and somatic experience, the patterns of our sensing, knowing and interacting with the world. No less potently, our worldview ~ our beliefs and theories, our maps, our metaphors, our myths, our interpretive assumptions ~ constellates our outer reality, shaping and working the world’s malleable potentials in a thousand ways of subtly reciprocal interaction. Worldviews create worlds.” — Richard Tarnas, ‘Cosmos and Psyche’
What World Are You Creating?
In short, if you’re looking for a way to celebrate Hanukkah from an integrative worldview, or if you want an example for creating new rituals with your holiday from a holistic perspective, I invite you to use Hanukkah Revisited: An Interspiritual Guide to the Jewish Festival of Light. (This link includes a description of the Guide.)
In the universal holiday spirit of giving, this guide is a Gift. I hope it helps you the way it helped me and turns your December Dilemma into a December Delight.
You can download a free e-copy of Hanukkah Revisited: An Interspiritual Guide to the Jewish Festival of Light here — click Free Purchase, then Checkout, then Free Download.