by Anna Marie Trotman, Your Wellness Coach for the Holidays
A New You
I got to thinking about hibernation after the “Delabear” recently went cruising through my neighborhood. I live in the Trolley Square area of Wilmington and it never occurred to me that a 200 pound wild Black Bear would be roaming around. I felt sad for the bear and thought that he or she must be stressed, not unlike his or her human counterparts at this time of year. I asked myself; “What can Delabear teach us?”
We tend to think of winter as a time of rest, “hibernation,” but the calendar and our activities reveal a different story. Are you like Delabear, running from one place to another? The cold months are clearly a popular time for parties and celebrations. While some are filled with solemn traditions, others focus on fun and lightheartedness. It also can be a time of incredible stress, overeating, and overdoing.
Gone are the days when I thought that everything had to be perfect! My perfect Christmas outfit, food that was over the top, a rockin’ tree, perfectly wrapped gifts, and of course I had to be everything to everyone. One year I couldn’t take it anymore, I decided to STOP, regroup, and say no to half the stuff I would do to make the holidays “perfect.”
This time of year, for me, is now a time of enjoyment and reflection. I light the menorah and ponder the miracles and blessings in my own life. I celebrate the Winter Solstice with friends and of course there is a special meal for Christmas. Neighborhoods decorated with lights and Longwood Gardens give me a warm feeling of nostalgia.
Reflect on Holiday Traditions
Many years ago, I taught at a school with a mostly African American student body. There I learned about Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is based on ancient African harvest festivals and celebrates ideals such as family life and unity. My friends decorate their homes with fruits and vegetables, and light a candle holder called a kinara. It was an honor and a privilege to be included in the festivities.
With all the stress of the season, I invite us to STOP and take a BREATH, if only for a moment; take it ALL in. Make your own traditions and bring in something from another culture or custom. Take a look at this list of several popular holidays celebrated during winter not only here in the US but around the world.
For eight days each November or December, Jews light a special candle holder called a menorah. It is a way to remember an ancient miracle in which one day’s worth of oil burned for eight days in the temple. During Hanukkah, special potato pancakes called latkes are served, songs are sung, and kids spin a top called a dreidel to win chocolate coins, nuts, or raisins.
The Winter Solstice occurs around December 21. It is the shortest day of the year. People all over the world participate in festivals and celebrations. Ancient peoples celebrated by lighting bonfires and candles to persuade the sun to come back. A few years back I went to the Winter Solstice Celebration at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC, I was totally overwhelmed by the experience and will go again!
People celebrate the Christian holiday in many different ways, some go to church, give gifts, and share the day with family and friends. In some parts of Europe, “star singers” go caroling, singing special Christmas songs, as they walk behind a huge star on a pole. The Feast of the Seven Fishes is celebrated by Italian-Americans and stems from a tradition that comes from Southern Italy. One year I was in Santa Fe, NM and was overcome by the Luminarias that seemed to cover every inch of the charming town.
Kwanzaa, which means “First Fruits” is a spiritual holiday celebrated from December 26 to January 1. African Americans dress in special clothes and light the kinara. Each of the seven days represents one of the seven core principles. Umoja: Unity, Kujichagulia: Self-Determination, Ujima: Collective Work and Responsibility, Ujamaa: Cooperative Economics., Nia: Purpose, Kuumba: Creativity, Imani: Faith.
New Year – More than Times Square!
One year my friends and I went to Times Square for New Year’s Eve celebrations. That was a memory I’ll cherish for sure. There are as many traditions as there are cultures, one I particularly like takes place in Ecuador. Families dress a straw man in old clothes on December 31. The straw man represents the old year. The family members make a will for the straw man that lists all of their burdens, mistakes and personal defects. At midnight, they burn the straw man with an intention that everything will disappear with him.
From Us to You and Your Family
Your Birth Center Family is as diverse as the many traditions discussed above, but one thing we have in common are our wishes for you and your family, that you have a peaceful and joyful holiday season.
However you celebrate, bring forth your inner bear, and settle in to the spirit of the season.