Funny, I personally have never thought about this time of year as a festival. That words brings other celebrations to mind. Perhaps just a real big "old fashioned" hoe down or shin dig would be better than all this glitz and glamour we have perceived Christmas to be.
Let's face it it folks, we have all fallen prey to the commercial engines of society. We are told we must buy gifts for others in order for them to love us. And of course they must reciprocate or what or who would they be then? It's not all bad. I mean, who doesn't enjoy receiving a gift or two right? In the bible we are told that Mary and Joesph received gifts from three kings on behalf of baby Jesus. I guess these three fellas started it all then. If this story is actually true. Many things that were recorded in that time period were elaborately embellished by leaders at the time, for the benefit of the uneducated followers. Or sometimes they were passed down from other time periods and religions as indeed it is in this case. The birth of Horus, an Egyptian King, parallel many stories of Jesus's life, but happened centuries before. Many religions talk about the birth of a "Christos," a name given to the incarnate presence of god within.
No matter what you believe, Christmas time should be a time for joyous celebration of our births. that we are even here on this spinning orb hurtling through space, is a miracle in itself. Let's celebrate our commonalities not define our selves by our differences. I like this quote by Joesph Campbell: "A symbol, a mythic symbol, does not refer to something which is known or knowable in a rational way. It refers to a spiritual power that is operative in life and is known only through it's effects." It would seem then that the purpose of all religious stories, including the birth of Christ, is not to entertain us, but to bring about a change of consciousness in each of us.
Take the time to be kind this Christmas season and spread the love all these stories are based on.
Love to all, Mike.