Christmas Wishes

Christmas Wishes

Today is Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year marking the official onset of winter.  The December and June solstices used to play an important role in the lives of many people.  Ancient stone circles and monuments were constructed to align to sunrises or sunsets on solstices.  Cultures throughout the world to this day are still influenced by traditions linked to observance of the December (winter in my part of the world) solstice.

Today is also the day that the current Mayan Long Count calendar comes to an end and some have taken this to mean the Mayans had predicted this was the ‘End of Time’.  This has fueled many ‘End of the World’ groups to promote various theories.  The Mayans themselves say this is nonsense, the calendar is based on cycles of time and the current calendar cycle is coming to the end of the 13th Baktun.  A Baktun is 144,000 days in length.  As the 13th Baktun ends the cycle returns to the beginning and heralds the start of the 14th Baktun.

It is also the time of year that Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Most people in England celebrate at this time of year, although the original meaning has been lost to many.

There are now only 4 sleeps till Christmas morning…  The Turkey and trimmings are all organised, the trees are up with their lights twinkling, the presents are wrapped and some of them have even been given to their recipients.  Apart from a few last minute items needed from the shops there is nothing else left to do except relax and put my feet up.

The photo I have chosen for this post is one of the numerous Christmas trees that have been decorated in Attingham House on the Attingham Estate in 1920s style for the Christmas season.  The decorations on this tree are quite simple; they are white lights and origami birds (doves I think).  Each bird is inscribed with hand written words, a wish for the season.  On a table to the side there was a notice asking people to add their own wishes.

My wish is for love, peace and understanding between individuals and nations.

What would you wish for?

In addition to my ‘wish’ I hope that you and your loved ones enjoy the peace of the season and have a happy and peaceful New Year,


The Art of Tolerance

On my recent weekend away in Paris I went up the Eiffel tower and when I looked down at the Champs de Mars from the viewing platform I noticed, through the morning mist, two rows of “people” lined up on either side of the lawn.  I decided to investigate a little more closely after I had descended the tower.

On closer inspection I found that they were bears rather than people and that they formed a touring exhibition of United Buddy Bears.  The bears are on display in Paris (for a few weeks) to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the twinning of Paris and Berlin and the 50th anniversary of the Élysée Treaty.

There are approximately 140 United Buddy Bears representing the countries recognised by the United Nations.  Since 2002 the bears have toured the globe promoting tolerance and understanding between different nations, cultures and religions.  The buddy bears stand ‘hand in hand’ symbolising the vision of a peaceful world.

The Buddy Bear motto is:

We have to get to know each other better…

…it makes us understand each other better, trust each other more, and live together more peacefully.

The bears are over 6 feet high and each one is individually designed by an artist from the country that the bear represents.  Therefore each bear represents a nation and its culture but they do not represent any political belief system.

Rather than show you a bear representing any one particular nation I have chosen to show you the Golden Rule and Global Ethic bears that were designed by Eva Herlitz, they are united by a heart. The Golden Rule is defined as ‘Try to treat everyone the way you would want to be treated.’  The bear on the left displays the Golden Rule written in many languages and the bear on the right shows symbols and original texts covering the Golden Rule from the scriptures of each of the seven major religions that embrace the Golden Rule and which promote peace amongst the different religions.

All the nations’ bears in the Paris exhibition are listed here, along with the name of the artist and their explanation of their interpretation of the purpose of their Buddy Bear.  I found that some of the ideas worked much better than others.  But I suppose that is bound to happen because art is open to interpretation by each of us as individuals.