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Psychology: Christmas beliefs

Merry X edit

Christmas is a religious festive, but it is also a feast at the beginning of winter for those of us in the Northern hemisphere. Our ancestors would have had a winter feast storing up body fat before the lean hungry months of winter. This would have been before Christianity came to Britain or most of the world.

Imagine for a moment, our ancestors sitting around an open fire watching the flames flicker; waiting for a winter treat. It might have been a goose, duck or even a swan roasting over that open fire. The flames of the fire would be associated in their minds with the safety of being with friends and family. Safe from the wild animals that would have roamed freely though the woodlands in those days.

Many of the instincts that our ancestors had, were passed down to us in our DNA. We still like to watch the flames flicker. We enjoy bonfires, open logs fires and we like to eat by candle light. Light is still important to us at this time of year when the days are at their shortest. Our ancestors celebrated the winter solstice, long before Christianity arrived in Britain and was spread to the rest of the world.

The town I live in was named after the god Woden, an Anglo-Saxon god that people believed in, long before Christianity. It was those primitive beliefs and the safety of the tribe that people associated with the light of the fire in a world without much light at this time of year. There were no lights except the light from the fire, the daylight of the sun or the light provided by the moon on  a clear night. Many early people worshipped the sun or the moon.

We instinctively have a fascination with fire and light. Many people decorate their home or at least a Christmas tree with lights at this time of year. It is a fascination that causes many house fires.

If this fascination for light is passed down in our DNA, what other primitive behaviour could be passed down that we may not have noticed? Certainly we are inclined to be even more clannish and tribal at this time of year. Looking for emotional security and wanting to spend time with friends and family.

It makes you wonder how much our tribal instincts effect our lives through the rest of the year. Does this tribal instinct cause us to be racist or turn against people that we perceive as different or from a different ‘tribe’?

We also seem to have our perception of beauty passed down to us in our DNA. We find people with symmetrical faces and bodies more  attractive and beautiful. We like the snow, even though we don’t like the cold. The first covering of snow, hides the imperfections in our environment.

Perhaps it is this tribal fascination with perfection that made Christianity such a successful religion?

What do you think? Please comment and  share your thoughts. You can also follow me on Twitter.

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