Holidays not so merry? Celebrate the solstice!

Winter solstice
Image via Wikipedia

The winter solstice is the day that marks the longest night of the year and the beginning of gradually lengthening days.  Some historians say it occurs right around the time of the Christmas festivities each year because this time was already a time of rejoicing for all the pagans in the world. Here’s a fascinating account from the Religious Tolerance website:

In pre-historic times, winter was a very difficult time for Aboriginal people in the northern latitudes. The growing season had ended and the tribe had to live off of stored food and whatever animals they could catch. The people would be troubled as the life-giving sun sank lower in the sky each noon. They feared that it would eventually disappear and leave them in permanent darkness and extreme cold. After the winter solstice, they would have reason to celebrate as they saw the sun rising and strengthening once more. Although many months of cold weather remained before spring, they took heart that the return of the warm season was inevitable. The concept of birth and or death/rebirth became associated with the winter solstice. The Aboriginal people had no elaborate instruments to detect the solstice. But they were able to notice a slight elevation of the sun’s path within a few days after the solstice — perhaps by DEC-25. Celebrations were often timed for about the 25th.

First of all, imagine living in a time when you didn’t know if the sun might be disappearing forever! Unlike today, when we know for scientific fact that the earth’s temperature is rising and its ecology threatened with global warming, we can prepare ourselves and imagine ways of dealing with frightening challenges.  Back then, all they could do was pray.

Anyway if you hate the typical holidays, you could try celebrating the return of the sun during the week of the winter solstice (usually December 21). Gather some candles, slips of paper, a few acorns (or pictures of acorns) and invite a friend over. Each write down any negative memories or feelings from the past year. Then light some candles and burn those bits of paper (have a fireproof container handy) as you release the negative energy. Then think about what wonderful secrets are contained in the acorn—just as your life can now welcome new beginnings.  Then eat, drink and be merry together knowing you’ve released some worries and opened your heart to new good.

Meanwhile, whatever you do celebrate, have a beautiful, warm, loving time.

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