The holidays are a time of celebration and community. As Catholics, we should see this celebration and emphasis on community as a pathway to live joyfully in daily life. The word holiday comes from the old English, “hāligdæg” literally meaning “holy day”. By giving us these days, the Church is calling us to live in a way that is holy or well-ordered towards our Lord. For when we live well-ordered lives, we are able to truly embrace joy!
Unfortunately, the way we celebrate holidays can often be a source of stress, particularly when it comes to the abundance of sweets and/ or the business of our schedule and what we “need” to get done. Because of this, these days can sometimes cause us anxiety. But this does not have to be the case. What are some ways we can prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ and celebrate these holy days without losing our peace?
- Know what is being celebrated. There are so many different holy days during the months of December and January that we can celebrate and incorporate into our daily life. Among these are December 6 (St. Nicholas), December 8th (Immaculate Conception), December 12th (Our Lady of Guadalupe), December 13th (St. Lucy), December 25th (Christmas Day), and January 6th (Epiphany). A great way to celebrate these days is by looking up traditions that correlate with these feasts and learning a bit about the Saints or events they commemorate. There are tons of free resources online as well including readings, crafts, and videos.
- Food! Baking, cooking, and gathering people together to share a meal are essential to the holiday season. We do not need to be fearful of this time worrying about an overindulgence in sweets! A great way to stay healthy through the holidays is by baking and cooking these delicious treats yourself. So often, the worst part of holiday cooking is the large amount of processed food. Pre-packaged foods tend to be high in artificial sweeteners, sodium, and trans-fat. Using alternatives such as honey or maple syrup instead of sugar and substituting healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado oil, or peanut oil in place of Crisco, lard, or palm oils is a great way to make healthy options.
- Get outside. While it is colder outside, make sure to bundle up and take walks to get fresh air. As days get shorter, it’s important to take advantage of the natural light and sun we do get during these winter months. A great way to do this is to take a lunch time stroll (either at your office or if you’re still working from home around your neighborhood). Taking 10 minutes to spend outside, get some vitamin D, and have a mental reset is a great way to ensure your overall physical, emotional, and spiritual health. You can even take your rosary with you, getting through a decade or a divine mercy chaplet on your walk.
Above all seek we should strive to direct our hearts towards Our Lord if you we are to truly make these days holy. Wishing you a happy and healthy Advent and Christmas season!