Goodwill is the same, no matter what you call it

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Goodwill is the same, no matter what you call it

Max Webster, Investigative Reporter

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  As the winter season comes around, millions of holiday lovers are busying around the cold winter nights gathering gifts for friends and loved ones for various holidays and traditions. Amongst the chaos, some have gotten lost in the blizzard of holiday shopping and have lost the true meaning of the holidays. Here at WSS we have noticed this and want to explain the real meaning of the holiday season.

  The first thing about the holidays that is commonly misconstrued is the true history of Christmas. The history of the matter is very long and there are many versions, but there is one event that changed history forever: In 336 Constantine (the first Christian Roman Emperor) celebrated the first recorded Christmas, and once Pope Julius was king, he declared the 25 of December the official celebration date of Jesus.

  Another major influence on the Christmas tradition was the one and only Saint Nicolas. Saint Nic, a Christian bishop from Turkey, was praised as a saint by the people for his secret gift giving, generosity, and ability to create miracles. After his death, people prayed to him and praised him for his gifts, blessings, and overall kindness.

  By the 16th century, however, the spirit around Saint Nick was beginning to fade. To help keep the spirit alive, people all over Europe began to anonymously deliver gifts to children, thus creating a character known as Father Christmas or Old Man Christmas; to children, he was the bearer of these gifts. Many years passed and culture after culture began to follow this tradition, which eventually became Santa Claus in the early stages of America, though he is known by other names all over the globe.

  As time went on and Christianity spread across Europe, the tradition of Christmas came with it, leading to the worldwide celebration that is celebrated today. The holiday was celebrated in ways that we do today: feasts were held, presents were given, and love and cheer was spread across the globe.

  Another religious holiday that falls during this time is the Jewish celebration Hanukkah. In 186 B.C. Antiochus IV Epiphanes, king of the Seleucids turned on the Jewish population living in Jerusalem, murdering thousands of innocent Jews in cold blood, all because they refused to worship the Greek gods. Then, 20 years later in 166 B.C. the Jews began a two-year revolt that in turn pushed out the occupying Syrians.

  The tradition of lighting the 8 candles comes from a magical tale. Once the Second Temple had been reclaimed during the revolt, the Jews lit the menorah within its walls. With only enough oil to light the menorah for one night, the Jews feared it would burn out until supplies arrived. Once the menorah was lit, the people waited for the flames to dwindle and perish. The miracle then came: the oil kept the menorah’s flame breathing for 8 days and nights until more oil and supplies arrived, a truly hope-giving and heartwarming tale that is celebrated to this day.

  These are just a few reasons the holiday season is special. Another reason the month of December is significant to some is the arrival of the Winter Solstice. The equinox, falling on the 21st of the 12th month, marks the shortest day of the year. This celebration has been celebrated by many cultures for thousands of years, for a great reason too. With the shortest day arriving, this means that every day will only get longer and warmer. To farmers, this means that the new season is coming with a chance to grow more crop, feed more people, and help their civilization thrive.

  The list goes on and on and so do the stories, but many wonder if there is a true way to celebrate the holidays. The pure answer is no, there is not a real way to celebrate. The main thing that connects all these tales is the ideas of gifting to others, helping those in need, and being with family. Small and simple things like gifting a toy to a neighborhood child, volunteering at a soup kitchen, and other ideas are all great ways to not only spread the cheer, but show compassion and humanity alike.

  The point is, the holidays are not about a singular idea or religion. No matter the religion you side with, ethnic background, or how wealthy you are, the holidays will have something to boost the spirit of all. With lights, feasts, music, and gifts, what isn’t to like?

  The holidays have shown that even in times of war and hatred, humanity still cares about one another, as seen in WWI. Sometime during the week of Christmas in 1914, both sides of the western front participated in a ceasefire, where they could leave the trenches, gather bodies, and have a day of remembrance of the old times when the war was irrelevant. Society has advanced enough that we can eat, sleep, and ultimately celebrate our traditions in harmony, and this ceasefire is a prime example.

  With the holidays close approaching, remember that those around us are human too, and spread the cheer. From us here at WSS, we wish you a merry Christmas and a Happy new year.

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