Monday, December 20, 2010

The Top-Heaviness of Christmas

Brownie Superior Sunset
Originally uploaded by mdt1960
The first day of winter—and thus, the shortest day of the year—is hours away as I write this. Living only a few miles from 45 degrees north latitude (the halfway point between the Equator and North Pole), tomorrow’s sunrise is scheduled for 7:43 a.m. while sunset will occur at 4:32 p.m. When the days get this short, most of us know that Christmas is near… unless one lives in the Southern Hemisphere.

I was thinking earlier today about how top-heavy our world is—top-heavy as in dominated by the values of the societies found in the Northern Hemisphere. (On a fragmented sidenote here: From the perspective of outer space and someone who has never looked at a world map, I suppose it could be thought of as bottom-heavy too.)

For all that, it’s unlikely that many Christian-based folk here on Earth consider a gathering around the barbecue during the long days of Christmas unless they live in places like Chile, Australia or New Zealand.

As a kid, I remember the stories of Jesus and his birth on a cold winter’s night… well, as cold as it gets during an Israeli winter. We were never told anything about “a cold winter’s night in the Northern Hemisphere.” What I’m getting to here is that the emphasis of the Christmas story has always been placed on the season, not the actual date of the calendar.

That gets me thinking.

I wonder what it would be like if Christmas was celebrated twice every year—once in the Northern Hemisphere and once in the Southern Hemisphere. Allow me to think aloud here as I haven’t figured out what to do with those living in close proximity to the equator.

Imagine, Christmas… twice in a year, every year. Yeah, that could be a bit much for those like myself, but the retailers would love it, wouldn’t they? Maybe we could order up another sun as well, so we’d never live in darkness again.

And this… the folks in New Zealand wouldn’t have to stay up late just to walk or drive around to look at the Christmas lights. If the Southern Hemisphere celebrated Christmas on June 25 instead of December 25, it would be a universal experience every time it was celebrated—nasty winter weather, fireplaces crackling, dark beers, and short days with plenty of Christmas lights.

My argument becomes more poignant when considering Easter. As you may (or may not) know, Easter always falls on the first Sunday following the first full moon of the Spring Equinox. As Christians, how do we live with ourselves in making our Southern Hemisphere brethren celebrate the resurrection of our Lord during autumn—the season of harvest and living things that die?

By the way, the sun rises on Invercargill, New Zealand at 5:48 a.m. tomorrow, and it won’t go down until 9:35 p.m.—only four days away from Christmas.

Just imagine.

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