Editress: Ginger Strivelli The “blizzard of '09” alas, canceled the local Yule gathering but We all enjoied the yuletide season nonethelss. Many of us 'APAer' now chat more on facebook than on our yahoogroups group, but it is still open and 'active' to some degree. We had several local Yuletide event notices were on there this month, and even a bit of chit chat now and then. I'd like to see it more active in the New year. -----------Ghosts of Holidays story by Sybilsue Strivelli (aged 13)---- The Ghost of Holidays Past I was laying in bed one night and I heard a something outside my window. I got up to see what it was and I saw a ghost outside. He was dressed in red and green and had holly in his hair. I opened the window to get a better look. “Who... what are you?” I asked “I am the ghost of holidays past and I am here to show you how people celebrated holidays thousands of years ago. Take my hand and I'll show you what I mean.” he said as he held out his hand. I was a bit hesitant at first, but I decided to go with him, deciding that all of this was probably just a dream. The moment I touched him, we were up off the ground and light was swirling all around us. A few seconds later, we ended up near a semi-circle of huge stones. I recognized the monument as Stonehenge. I started to ask someone what they were doing, but the ghost stopped me. “These people are unaware of us, we are invisible to them. They can not see us or hear us. These are the Druids building Stonehenge. They are building it for Winter Solstice, or Yule, which is the longest night of the year. It is being built to, in a way, welcome back the Sun.” “What year is it?” I asked him. “It is 2800 B.C.” he replied “they are decorating with holly, which symbolizes rebirth, in this case of the sun. They are also decorating with mistletoe, which symbolizes peace.” “Next,” he said “I will show you how they are celebrating in Luxor, Egypt 1,400 years later.” A few seconds later we were in the middle of a desert. The Egyptians were building the Luxor Temple. “They are building the Luxor temple to celebrate Yule,” said the ghost “They are also welcoming back the sun. When the sun rises, the temple aligns with it. They believe that the God Hathor gives birth to the Sun God on Yule, it is the rebirth of the Sun. They decorate the palm trees as part of their celebration. They use trees because they symbolize life.” “Now, let's go to Rome in 200 B.C. - 1,200 years later. We flew through the cities of Rome, everyone was feasting. “The Romans are celebrating Saturnalia. It starts on December the 17th and ends on December the 23rd. Saturnalia is the feast of the God Saturn. People celebrate by exchanging gifts and feasting. They also decorate fir trees. They made offerings to the Gods of Winter, mainly Saturn though.” We returned back to my house later that night. I learned a lot that night about how people celebrated the holidays back then. I went to sleep with all those thoughts about Winter Solstice and Saturnalia. Ghost of Holidays Present The next night, there was another noise outside my window. I opened it and saw a ghost dressed like Santa Claus. “So are you another ghost?” I asked “Yes! I am the ghost of holidays present and I will show you how different types of people celebrate the holidays these days.” So we traveled to the other side of town, to a church. They were doing a nativity play to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Other people celebrating Christmas were at home feasting or opening presents. We traveled to a few houses where people were celebrating Hanukkah. “Hanukkah is the festival of lights.” the ghost told me “They lighted the menorah to symbolize the light in the oil lamp lasting eight days. There are eight candles in a menorah then a ninth one to light the others. It became a holiday because there was only enough oil in the lamp to last one day, but it lasted for eight.” We then went to a Pagan gathering. They were celebrating Yule like people did thousands of years ago. They were all in a circle doing a spiral dance to welcome back the sun. We went through a few more holidays. There are many different traditions and celebrations I never even knew about. We went back to my house later and I realized that I learned a lot. I learned that there are many different types of holidays people celebrate even now. So the ghost left and I went to bed, thinking of all those different holiday traditions. Ghost of Holidays Yet to Come The next night, I expected another ghost to come, so I sat by the window and waited. After about 15 minutes, there was still no ghost, so I turned around to go to bed. I was surprised, though, to see another ghost right there on my bed. “What are you the ghost of?” I asked the ghost. “I am the ghost of holidays yet to come,” He told me “I will show you how people will celebrate holidays a few hundred years from now!” I took his hand and we traveled to a strange place. I looked around for a few minutes then asked the ghost, “Where are we?” “We are on the moon, in man-made civilizations. Everyone is celebrating different kinds of holidays, with different traditions, just like people have for thousands and thousands of years. They get some of their traditions from how they celebrated the holidays long ago. Some of them are passed down from generation to generation in the family. Some of the traditions are newer. People all celebrate differently and have different beliefs.” He showed me different people celebrating the holidays. I realized that all the ghosts showed me how people celebrate the holidays differently. People have for thousands of years, they still do, and they will continue for years to come. Everyone celebrates different holidays and believe different things. That's just the way it is and we should accept people even if they believe different things. The ghost took me back home later, and I went to sleep, ready for the holidays to begin.