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By Nicole Shepherd

From the Past to the Future
Christmas is a religious and also a family festival where, for a few hours, people have the opportunity to forget their anger, their troubles and their resentments.

It is the solstitial time of the winter when the Sun moves farthest from the Earth. Traditionally, people were afraid that it would not return in the following days to provide light and heat. To avert this fate, they lit fires to illuminate the places where they lived. Today, the modern materials and sources of power transform this tradition into illumination of the town centers. Homes sparkle with candles and fir trees are adorned with brilliant objects. It's the festival of Light. In December there is also the festival of Saint Lucia, which also means Light.

Currently, the symbolism of the Light festival is preserved by the magic of technology, in spite of the lapse of memory of the real significance of this festival, which of course has pagan origins.

On a spiritual level this Light is the flame which ignites inside every individual. So we see gestures of generosity, the desire for sharing and helping others, and the wish to come together to give and receive. Whether it's pagan or religious, the collective festival exists to remind us we are of spiritual origin, to help us not forget it. The idea is to keep life this flame alive, which otherwise tends to decrease with the distractions and stresses of daily life - to keep it always present in our hearts.

It is actually a message of Love which since ancient times is fundamental to our nature and which will never cease, so long as its flame is kept alive.

Another symbolism which is often now forgotten is that of Father Christmas. This ageless man who 'comes down' to bring us gifts is the symbol of 'the ancestor' who transmits his knowledge in the family circle. He tells myths and legends about the history of humanity, lessons about good and evil, that illustrate the behavior of Man. The 'gifts' that he gives to the youngest at the time of Christmas are the experience gained and integrated during the year, intended to help the young people cross over into maturity in the best possible way.

The festival also connects with Janus (January), the god with a double face, one turned towards the past and the other facing the future. We can, during this period, assess the last year, learn from our experience and make new resolutions to change our life for the better.

I wish a happy new year to you all. Remember to kindle your flame of Love, as this will help you to discover your true purposes and realize them.

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