I love making evergreen wreaths. Evergreens are a symbol of rebirth and I am anticipating the arrival of Winter Solstice the longest night of the year. Each wreath I make is made from different combination of materials and has a different theme. I use cedar boughs primarily but I also use Douglas and balsam fir, spruce and pine. The cones, holly, mistletoe, and ivy as well as ribbon and small ornaments I add make each wreath unique.
Decking the halls with evergreen boughs in anticipation of the upcoming spring is among the oldest of northern mid-winter traditions. But there were times when this pagan ritual was not observed by Christians.
When the Roman Church decided in the fourth century that Christmas should be celebrated on December 25, some of the pagan celebrations of the Roman Saturnalia (celebrated at the same time of year) were carried over, such as feasting and exchanging gifts. But others were too controversial to carry over…. Using the clippings of evergreen shrubs from the landscape to decorate houses, a common practice during the December celebrations of Saturnalia, was strictly forbidden by the Church.
The tradition of decorating an evergreen tree at Christmas started in Livonia and Germany in the 16th century. But it wasn’t until Queen Victoria’s reign that Christmas tree decorating became a Christmas tradition in England, thanks to the influence of Prince Albert (see The Christian Calendar: A Complete Guide to the Seasons of the Christian Year, Cowie and Gummer, p.11). Not coincidentally, Prince Albert had been born in Germany. — – Christmas Tree Decorating: The History of the Christmas Tree
Stay Busy – Stay Happy
Earlier this year the results of some interesting research was published in Psychological Science. Christopher K. Hsee, of the University of Chicago, and his colleagues found that people who have something to do, even something pointless, are happier than people who sit idly. The findings reinforced our proposition that humans concurrently desire both busyness and a justification for busyness. Such decisions are rooted in evolution, because expending energy throughout the ages without reason could jeopardize survival. — Hsee in Idleness aversion and the need for justifiable busyness. Psychological Science, 21, 926-930. doi: 10.1177/0956797610374738
“In Greek mythology, Sisyphus’ punishment, imposed by Zeus, was to eternally roll a rock toward the top of a hill, never to arrive there,” the authors write. “Our research suggests that Sisyphus was better off with his punishment than he would have been with a punishment of an eternity of doing nothing, and that he might have chosen rolling a rock over idleness if he had been given a slight reason for doing so.” – Stay Busy, Stay Happy
The Science of Lasting Happiness
Count your blessings every day? Staying in high spirits is hard work. Through controlled experiments, Sonja Lyubomirsky explored ways to beat the genetic set point for happiness.
Lyubomirsky found through experiments that exercises in gratitude, kindness and optimism can make people happier–but only if they keep doing them.
Lyubomirsky, Sheldon and another psychologist, David A. Schkade of the University of California, San Diego, put the existing findings together into a simple pie chart showing what determines happiness. Half the pie is the genetic set point. The smallest slice is circumstances, which explain only about 10 percent of people’s differences in happiness. So what is the remaining 40 percent? “Because nobody had put it together before, that’s unexplained,” Lyubomirsky says. But she believes that when you take away genes and circumstances, what is left besides error must be “intentional activity,” mental and behavioral strategies to counteract adaptation’s downward pull. — The Science of Lasting Happiness
Winter Solstice Contemplation
As the the shortest day and longest night of the year approaches part of our life must be discarded to make way for a new beginning. This is the time to evaluate what you have endured and have survived and open your heart to prepare for the spring to come. This is the time to prepare to welcome the light by remembering the gifts of darkness.
This a post is dedicated to two bloggers who remind me that to experience genuine happiness we must practice it every day.
Zeenat has published My 33 Spiritual Laws of Happiness which is an inspiring compilation of personal spiritual laws that I think of as happiness exercises. She currently working on an ebook on the same topic.
The book will cover each Law in detail, with personal examples, insight , affirmations and practical simple ways of incorporating each in your life to truly BE happy.
Sandra Lee has published Happiness Is An Inside Job in her series: A Simple Guide to Inner and Outer Harmony.
If genuine happiness arises from a sense of inner peace, as the Dalai Lama proposes, then – like any other task in life – we need to identify its causes and conditions and set about cultivating them. He defines two conditions which contribute to inner peace: our attitude and our actions.
Are you keeping busy and happy?