• A #Christmas #ShortStory Santa’s Gift

    I watch my children launch themselves gleefully at the pile of presents under the tree, but take no pleasure in their joy. My heart feels cold and hard as a stone, and the bitter taste of guilt catches and won’t wash away in the back of my throat.

    Sarah is the oldest. Always the thoughtful one, she organises her younger sister to sort the parcels into three piles, one for each of them. It’s meagre pickings, I think dismally, but they don’t seem to notice. Caitlin normally resents Sarah’s bossiness, but on this occasion normal hostilities have been temporarily cast aside. Jojo, not even a year old, crawls happily through the chaos, more absorbed in the crunch and rustle of the bright paper than what it conceals.

    My brave bold trio, who already in their short lives have seen a side of it no child should have to witness. I won’t have their childhood stolen away from them, I just won’t.

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  • A #Christmas #ShortStory The Cinderella Shoes

    “I’ll take them,” I hear myself say, and suddenly, my heart is fluttering randomly like a butterfly in my chest. “I’ll keep them on.”

    The two young sales assistants exchange snooty glances, rolling black-rimmed eyes at each other. One of them goes to get a bag for my old grey trainers, while the other processes my purchase at the till.

    As I teeter out of the store on my new high heels, I hear the ring of their mocking laughter, and my spine stiffens.

    I glance down at my feet. Four hundred euros of Swarovski encrusted soft silver leather now adorn each one, balanced on a perfectly crafted, needle-thin mirrored heel.

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  • Tree Lore | The Five Sacred Evergreens of #Christmas

    For out ancestors, winter mast have seemed like a near-death; the sun was distant and weak, unable to warm earth or air, unable to hold back the night; trees wept leaves like tears; plants melted into the earth, inert beneath frozen or sodden ground; birds flew away; animals hibernated or migrated. The only vivacious sign of life flourishing in the land whilst all else wasted, was the evergreens. No wonder they became a beacon of hope, a symbol of endurance and survival. No wonder people brought them into their homes as a reminder of better times.

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  • 5 Sacred Symbols of #Christmas and their Pagan Origins

    It has started; the Christmas decorating. In this house, it takes a week, and finally culminates in the dressing of the tree. And year on year, the same symbols abound throughout the festive season; Santa, the reindeer, the stable and the manger, hanging up the stocking etc, to name just a few. But have you ever wondered where they came from? It might surprise you to know that they derive from some pretty ancient, pre-Christian traditions.

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  • Tree Lore in Irish Mythology | Holly, King of Winter

    You may not have been aware of it, but a few months ago, a mighty battle took place. It has been happening every year since time began. And though you didn’t know it, you will have felt the consequences; how slowly, slyly, the shadow of night encroached upon the day and stole its light; how the sun hurried across the sky as if it couldn’t bear to look; how Summer’s warmth faded from the air, sucking with it all life from the earth, and all that was green and vibrant with health shriveled and died. It was as if everything that was good in the world withdrew, leaving behind only grey skies and hardship, and an uncertain future.

    The Oak King had fought his battle, and lost. Holly, the victorious conqueror, stalked the land while the days stumbled toward their darkest hour.

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  • Irish Mythology | The Sacred Fires

    There’s something hypnotic and beguiling about watching golden flames leap, fanning your face with melting warmth, whilst the hiss and pop as they consume their fuel, fills your ears, and clouds of fragrant wood-smoke drift around you… the experience of fire is quite a feast for the senses. A fire can be soothing and relaxing, or mesmerising and exciting, or uncontrollable and frightening.

    Our ancestors were well aware of the effects of fire. Mastering this element had changed their lives, yet was fraught with danger. Homes were temporary affairs, constructed of degradable substances such as wood and thatch, and thus highly flammable. Even the landscape could be destroyed by the application of fire, or it could be revitalised.

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  • Winter Willows | A Poem

    Snow falls
    Feather soft
    For the robin, no perch here.
    Across the field
    mournful cattle low.
    Too cold, the dark end of the year.
    Soft hues of Eire
    earth-brown, grass-green, sky-blue,
    overcome by stark monochrome.

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  • So what did we do in Winter before the Christians invented #Christmas?

    For our ancestors, the festival of Mid-Winter was an essential period of respite from the harshness of winter. Winter was bleak, a time of hardship, and a struggle for survival. The return of summer’s warmth and plenty was not, for them, guaranteed.

    But then something remarkable happened beneath that cruel, cold wing of seemingly eternal shade. The Winter Solstice was the turning point upon which their fortunes hinged. Light triumphed over darkness as the days lengthened and the nights grew shorter. The sun was growing stronger in the sky. It was a sign, a promise of better times to come. And that was something worth celebrating.

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  • The Pre-Christian Origins of #Christmas Decorating

    Christmas decorating… why do we do it? Well, our beloved Christmas tree is a seventeenth century German custom adopted in the UK and Ireland during Victorian times. We all love a well-decorated tree, don’t we? Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without it! And it just so happens that this tradition also stems from a far more ancient pagan custom.

    Yes, the pagans cut boughs from evergreen trees and shrubs and brought them inside to decorate their homes at the Winter solstice. Why? Let’s think about it…

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