There are many reasons to celebrate this December

There are many reasons to celebrate this December



Charles Dickens wrote: Of all the months of the year there is not a month one half so welcome to the young, or so full of happy associations, as the last month of the year.”

For many these words continue to ring true regardless of age. Across a variety of cultures and traditions this month has happy associations with giftedness. Saturnalia was celebrated in ancient Rome with a feast and gift-giving. Social hierarchies were overturned as slaves were served at table by their masters and freedom was feted.

Hanukkah is celebrated with special foods, games, and gifts. A miraculous abundance of oil to light eight candles, freedom of worship, and self-governance are parts of this Jewish holiday.

Yule is celebrated with shared meals, gift-giving, a remembrance of ancestors, and the earth’s fertility despite winter’s barrenness.

Christmas is celebrated with shared food and gift-giving. It’s on the twelfth day of Christmas, January 6, that the tradition of gift-giving originated with the Magi’s extravagant gifts to the child Jesus.

Kwanzaa is celebrated with African foods, gifts, gratitude for ancestors, and culminates in a communal feast. African heritage, culture, and art are shared with young and old alike.

Potlatches are celebrated more frequently in winter among indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest coast. These extravagant gift-giving feasts reaffirm family and redistribute wealth to those in need. One’s status isn’t raised by who has the most resources, but who distributes the most resources.


Consider the gifts of 2023.

  • What new freedom is ours and what yet needs overturning for such?
  • What abundance have we received?
  • What extravagance have we given?
  • Which ancestors are missed most?
  • What gifts of theirs live in us?
  • What if our status was not based on what we have, but what we give?


Rev. Dr. Sybrant serves at Murray Hills Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). For more info, visit us at 15050 SW Weir Road, Beaverton. | 503-524-5230