For Christians this Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. It is the beginning of the Christian calendar. Two things always come to my mind this time of year. First is the likely pagan background of the day on which Western Christianity celebrates Jesus’ birth. Second is what does it mean to wait, or rather, what do we do while we wait?

The relationship of Christmas with the winter solstice is unmistakable. It is on the darkest day of the year that we celebrate the coming of the light of the world. This is a beautiful image for those who believe that the birth of Jesus set in motion the most important religious events the world has ever known. It is also obvious that there is a massive amount of mixing different religious celebrations and cultures at this time of year — it is called syncretism.

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