According to Wikipedia, which is my go-to source for information that needs to be gathered on the fly (so long as the result will not be subjected to a thesis review), there are numerous holidays of various denomination that all happen to fall around the Winter Solstice – the astronomical event that occurs when the sun is at its lowest point in the sky with respect to the northern hemisphere. (In the nether regions of the world this same event takes place in June – but then they get these things backwards all the time down there.)
We know that our pagan forbears were keen watchers of the sky and very familiar with the planets, the phases of the moon, eclipses and what that great eye in the sky was doing. It kind of had a heavy influence on their survival.
The winter solstice marked the “end of the waiting”; the world would be getting warmer again, day-by-day, and soon it would be time to begin planting the fields once again.
If our various faiths have anything in common, it is that their celebrations are drawn from and tied to the ancient practices of celebrating astronomical events, such as the winter solstice. Not surprising that what we all have in common is a celebration of life and hope that we’ll make it through another turn of the sky.
In the western world, Christmas is the dominant version of this ancient celebration. Other religions and cultures have them as well – Hanukah (co-opted to give largely secular jews an excuse to give their kids presents) Kwanza; Donghzi, Soyal, Yalda, Saturnalia, Pancha Ganapati, Festivus (for the rest-of-us), Yule, Mawlid-al-Nabi and many more (and forgive me if I did not include your celebration, the list was not meant to be exhaustive).
I think we can all, regardless of faith or belief, get together behind the idea of celebrating rebirth, renewal, the promise of a better future, the dawning of a new day. So, from all of us here at Amazing Stories, to all of you, regardless of what you believe or how you celebrate those beliefs, our best wishes to you this (extended) holiday season.
Our gift to you on this day is a collection of pulp magazine covers celebrating…Christmas. I’ve yet to see a menorah depicted on the cover of an SF mag, but there’s still plenty of time…
Most of the pulps didn’t bother with special themed cover illustrations, but Galaxy seemed to be particularly fond of the practice. All images are from scans that can be perused on the Galactic Central Press website. (Which, if you’ve finished unwrapping presents and don’t want to hang with the family anymore, makes for an excellent time-waster.)