By Quasibah (Guest Writer)
When my husband and I began developing our African Spirituality we felt it was important to stop celebrating Christmas and instead chose to celebrate the Winter Solstice by fasting and meditating from Dec 21-24 breaking the fast on December 25th.
This choice resulted in us no longer having a Christmas tree. This transition is easier said than done when you have two small children in your household. They naturally did not understand why we no longer wanted a Christmas tree in our house. After all, It is so pretty with all the ornaments and lights. Plus, everybody else was doing it. Why can’t we? Our eldest, being the negotiator in the family, wouldn’t let it go. We explained that we only wanted to do things that are meaningful to us in a true way. Still feeling like I wanted to allow the children to have their experience while having it reflect our African Spirituality, I went on the internet to see if there were families like ours and how they addressed this issue.
I found an article called Web en Djed and how to celebrate the Winter Solstice similarly to how our Kemetic Ancestors did thousands of years ago on http://templeofanu.org/news/2015/12/16/web-en-djed (Unfortunately the article is no longer online).
Inspired by that article I decided to craft a Djed pillar with the children which we would raise on the last day of the Winter Solstice. We even put Christmas lights on them. We explained that the Djed represented power and stability and that The ‘Raising of the Djed’ symbolises the resurrection of Ausar. That went well the first time.
That following year we still made a Djed pillar together and raised it on the day we break the fast and kept it around with Christmas lights.
The questions continued about why we don’t have a Christmas tree and we explained it once more, but it was clear our eldest was not satisfied.
This past year our eldest tried a new strategy. She asked: “Mama, why don’t we set up an ancestor family tree this year?” As I was thinking about her request a whole new idea was born that made everyone in the family happy.
We bought a tree and star ornaments. We looked up our family tree and labeled the stars with the names of our ancestors with the date of birth and death. The ancestors that we have known got more personalized ornaments. For example, for my father I hung a hanger of a necklace that was given to me after he passed away. We hung the oldest ancestors in the top of the tree. The garlands represent the DNA that runs through our family and connects us. The lights are like burning a little candle for each of them.
The tree was lit during the entire Winter Solstice period and it was as if our ancestors were close while we did our Winter Solstice rituals. After we broke the fast we shared the food and drinks with our ancestors by placing some under the ancestor tree as an offering.
Now as we head towards December there are no more Christmas tree discussions and the entire family is looking forward to setting up our yearly Ancestor Tree.
By Quasibah (Guest Writer)