-John Lovejoy Elliott, "Spiritual
in The Fiftieth Anniversary of the Ethical Movement,1876-1926
Ethical Culture Roots: Perspectives from the history of Ethical Culture
Festival of the Winter Solstice
Felix Adler - 1884
The festival of the Winter Solstice was originally designed to celebrate the indestructible life in nature. The higher thought today is that the moral life of the world which appears so far as we know, in human beings only, is also indestructible - that after every defeat it rises to new victory - that after every obscuration it shines forth with new brightness.
What is the symbol to which all shall express the thoughts that we in Ethical Culture would connect with the festival of the Winter Solstice? Is it the Christmas tree. or the old Yule tree which prior to the Christmas tree, symbolized the rekindling of the darkened light of the sun? But it expresses only the physical side of the festival, the fact of the evergreen life of external nature. For the higher, the spiritual nature, it does not stand.
The only symbol that can be adequate for us is the child - the child not merely as it plays around the tree, not as it enjoys its gifts, not in relation to its parents who take great pleasure in its happiness, but the child apart from all these connections, the child as the vehicle of a new moral life, and therefore the type of the ever-recurring renewal of the moral life, the child as the promise and the pledge of the whole unspeakable future.
(contributed by Dick Reichart, from a
posting by Jean Kotkin, December, 2002 and Jone Johnson Lewis,