Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

No, that's not a misprint. According to the Celts, today is New Year's. Well, sort of. To the Celts, the year was divided into two sections - the "light half" ran from May 1 until Halloween, then the "dark half" held sway from November 1 back to the start of May. Therefore, yesterday was New Year's Eve.

Key to understanding this idea of two half-years is a basic concept of Celtic theology. Where we moderns (or post-moderns, I always confuse the two) tend to look at things from a dualistic point of view, those wacky Celts were more inclusive.

OK, that's not too clear to me, and I'm the one writing it. Let me back up and try again.

These days, we tend to see things as "either/or." Something is either good or it's bad. Theology-wise, we tend to view light as "good" and dark as "bad." The Celts were more rounded, viewing events as more like points along a spectrum (or circle, being rounded and all). Things just are - they aren't one or the other; it's bigger than that. Put in modern Halloween terms, the modern Western view is Swedish fish (all chewy, all red, nothing chocolate-coated and mutilayered) while the Celts are more like Reese's Cups (chocolate and peanut butter).

What all this means is that to the Celts, the "dark half" isn't a bad, icky, scary time. Growth takes energy and that's what the "light half" of the year is for. But you can't sustain that always and forever - you need the "dark half" of longer nights and quieter time to contemplate what's coming next, to recharge and refresh so you can be ready to spring forth when the light time comes.

Not a bad idea, when you think about it. In the meantime, we poor mods (post-mods; whatever) are just about to enter what is (for many of us) the wackiest of times - holidays. Multiple guests, special food, redecorate the house, send cards and letters (most of us don't do much of that during the year, then feel we suddenly need to turn into Victorians - we even go caroling!), and feel inferior if we don't have a handmade centerpiece that would take a staff of six a solid week to create in the first place.

I think my Celtic ancestors may have had the right idea all along.

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