Holiday traditions vary widely around the world. Midwinter holidays bring brightness, warmth, and celebrations to make up for the long nights and stormy weather. Through the long sweep of history many religions have established celebrations based on their beliefs. It is a season of significance and renewal.
Of course, ‘midwinter’ holidays is a term that applies to one hemisphere at a time. December celebrations in the northern hemisphere are dramatically different than the December ‘midsummer’ celebrations in the southern hemisphere. Since this blog is read by people in many countries with many traditions I will acknowledge that this posting is about only a narrow slice of holiday traditions.
I look forward to Christmas season. It is a time of togetherness for our family. A peaceful, warm, bright interlude. We have a chance to slow down and step aside from our daily tasks and stresses. We can put our roles away and just do things together. I hope that your traditions bring you that kind of fulfillment and happiness.
The Christmas tree in this photo is in the main lobby of Jacoby’s Storehouse in Arcata, California, USA. It is a building filled with shops and great restaurants. They find a tree that reaches the ceiling and then decorate it extravagantly. Lights and ornaments cover the entire interior of this historic building. For many years it has been a central location for celebration within our community.
This building is in the heart of redwood country in northern California. It played a pivotal role in the excitement and frenzy of the gold rush in the middle of the 19th century. It is a four story brick building and was built as a fire-resistant safe place to store supplies for the miners and loggers. The supplies were brought on ships from San Francisco, almost 300 miles to the south. It was a dangerous and wild trip.
When the ships came into Humboldt Bay they navigated through deep channels to the north end of the bay where Arcata is. A pier had been constructed 2 miles out into the bay to the end of the shipping channel. The first railroad in California operated between Jacoby’s Storehouse and the end of that pier. The supplies were transferred from the ships onto the railroad cars and then transported to the Storehouse. Pack mule trains were organized in the town’s central plaza in front of the Storehouse. The loaded mules made the demanding trip inland over the coastal mountain ridges to the gold bearing river bars that were teaming with wealth seekers.
The Arcata Plaza is now a meeting place for the community, no mules allowed. Festivals and farmer’s markets are held there now. Jacoby’s Storehouse still plays an important role in Arcata. It is a gathering place for relaxation and dining where families, neighbors, and friends meet.
The plaza is also important for young people in Arcata. They gather there for celebration and reunions. People who grew up in Arcata and have moved away usually spend some time there whenever they visit. Many memories.
So to all those Arcatans who live elsewhere now, but still feel some emotion when somebody says, “Go Tigers” this photo is for you. Where’s YOUR Santa?
Safe travels and I hope that you can be with people that you love for the holidays!