I became aware of the Spirit of Christmas ritual around twenty years ago, back in my home country, Venezuela. The celebration came from the New Age circles but became very popular with people from different walks of life rather fast. At first sight, seems to converge different ideas an iconographies. Celebrated during the winter solstice (usually December 21st) it welcomes a divine energy made of love, hope, joy, light, peace and all the good things many of us associate with Christmas. It is usually represented by an elderly man with many similarities with the secular Father Christmas, one of the Wise Man and the Pagan Holly King. The aim of the celebration is, one hand, to spiritually connect with the qualities of the energy, but (and this is the fun part) also to let out our inner child, as part of the ritual includes writing a letter to the Spirit, asking for you want for the next year.
The following is a template for a Spirit of Christmas Welcoming celebration as we did it in my family, that can be adapted to your particularly needs. The first thing to be said is that this is a communal celebration: the idea is to invite friends and/or family to receive the Spirit together. This brings the opportunity to gather with people who may not be available during the rest of holidays; for siblings and parents to alternate hosting different events during December; and for divorced or separate parents to offer children a nice celebration without competing with Christmas Day.
Before the arrival of the guests, clean the house thoroughly. The energy of the Spirit seems to be intimately connected with mandarin oranges, so put some mandarin oil or peels in the cleaning water. Use mandarin also in candles or sprays, and as, much as possible, in the decoration. This means decorating the home in yellow, light orange and gold flowers, table cloths, curtains, as well as ornaments associated with good luck. And of course, use the fruit itself in the decor (orange, tangerines and satsumas work well too, especially if it’s hard to find mandarin oil.)
Boil some water. Let it cool down and then place it in a beautiful bowl at the centre of the table. Let a lovely yellow flower float in this water, as well as a few drops of mandarin oil. Put your hands slightly above the bowl. Connect to feelings of love and generosity. Now pray to the Divine of your understanding and ask it to bless this water with its unconditional love. You will use it later on during the ritual (and you may use it to bless your home the following day.)
Have also paper, envelopes and pens for the guest in which to write their petitions to the Spirit. Have two sheets of paper for each guest, as they will need to write twice their letter (depending on the situation, you can ask your guests to write their original letter ahead, or at least be cleared in their wishes.) Also have at hand a pot lined with foil. Put some cinnamon, laurel and a little olive oil (plus a few drops pf tangerine oil) at the bottom. For dessert, bake a sweet cake and decorate it in white, to represent the purity of the Spirit. For this celebration the ideal is that everyone contributes with a dish for the dinner, as a way to be in tune with the sharing aspect of the Spirit.
When all the guest have arrived and are ready for the ceremony, open as many windows as possible, as well as doors. This is to symbolise our inner opening to receive the Spirit into our hearts. Be sensible though: if it’s freezing, just open one window or just the door for a few minutes. The hosts starts the ceremony by saying a gratitude prayer to the Divine of their understanding, for sending the loving energy to the Christmas Spirit here to Earth. Bless the spirit for all the wonderful emotional and spiritual gifts that the season offers. Give thanks to the spirit for all that you have received and will received next year.
Now is time to write the letters. Be sure to include the date and address it to the Beloved Spirit of Christmas. With faith and joy, thanks the Spirit for giving you what you are about to ask. That is, don’t write “please grant me” but “thank you for granting me.” You are going to ask for: seven things that will benefit humanity; seven things that will benefit your family/friends/community and seven things that benefit you. End with a blessing and statement that says that you know, without doubt, that what you have written will occur as has been decreed. It can be something along the lines of “May all this come to pass in perfect love and perfect timing; may it be in harmony with my true self and true purpose and may it be to my greatest benefit and the benefit of all. So has it has been written and so it is.” Sign the letter. Now write a copy. Fold the copy.
It’s time to light the candles. Ask your guests to imagine what life would be like once all their wishes have come true. Specially, asked them to evoke the feelings they will have when those petitions have comes to pass. Now have each guest dip a finger in the consecrated water and bless their letters with a few drops. Depending on how comfortable they feel, they may wish to say a blessing out loud or you may wish to say one for the whole group. It can be something very simple as “in the name of the Light/God/Universe/Divine/Love I bless these petitions; many they arrive in joy and perfect harmony; may they be manifested from love and with love, for the betterment of all involved and in flawless agreement to the Divine Will/Life Plan.”
Have the guests burn a corner of the copy of the letter with their candles and throw them in the pot. Make sure the papers burn completely. As they burn, ask your guests to read out loud their letter and then give them an envelope to each one, so they can enclose the papers in them. Once they are back home, they should put the letters away, preferable in a sacred place if they have one. The idea is that, next year, they will burn them with the copy of the new letter for that year and so on.
Now is time to eat and celebrate. Play joyful music and have some games. You may choose to exchange gifts, decide on a charity you would like to collaborate with as a group or start a fund for next year, to use for the food, decoration, gifts and so forth. A nice idea, that needs a little planning, is for the guests to bring a present, not for anyone in the group, but for a shelter, a school or a charity. Depending on the hour, you may end the celebration going together to take the gifts or money donation. That said, do say good-bye to your guests with a little token, anything from chocolate coin to a little card with an inspiring message.
© Karem Barrett 2014