For some the month of December is filled with celebrations and one is the Winter Solstice. It’s all uphill from here as winter begins. Sounds like a true paradox, doesn’t it? But from this day on we can celebrate more light as the days become longer and the nights are shorter. I’ll stick my neck our here and say for most people light is a desirable need, as light and life are born together.
It can also be a time that people fear as the lack of sunlight in the Northern Hemisphere makes us realize how fragile life is. We depend on light for many things and hope that the sun doesn’t continue to go south and vanish. For this reason today and long ago, cultures have celebrated the light and performed ceremonies to wield the doubt that the sun and therefore light will disappear.
Different seasons occur during the summer and winter solstices at opposite times of the year in the north and south hemispheres. As the earth rotates about the sun the axis on which it spins is tilted about 23.5 degrees towards the plane of its rotation. This tilt allows more direct sunlight for the Northern Hemisphere during the summer solstice and less during the winter. The opposite is true for the Southern Hemisphere.
The winter solstice has been celebrated around the world for thousands of years. The celebration in Europe was known as the Yule, from the Norse, Jul, meaning wheel. In Western culture this time of the year is referred to as “Christmas” when its pagan roots reveal the birth of the “Invincible Sun”. Later the Christian Church selected the same day, December 25 to represent the birthday of Jesus.
Today it’s hard for me to keep track of who the real “Santa” is. I just know that the milk and cookies were always liked and he always knew what gifts would benefit me the most. As a little girl, I longed for a chimney that he could come down. I imagined what that would look like; instead we had wet footprints and snow at the back door.
A transitioning for me personally to relax, hibernate inside and go deep into what is important in my life. I reach for the necessary and let go of what’s not. I worship the importance of what sustains me and what pushes me forward into the light. I hear and see like no other time of the year and my attention is devoted to what allows me to live each and every day. Every solstice is a coming around again and noticing changes that we’ve made over the course of the year to give back to Mother Nature who provides for us.
We celebrate in dim candlelight the warmth that radiates a bright light in each of us as we share love and kindness. The solstice is much more than a day of celebration; it’s a time of humility and humbleness as we pass the food around the table. A time to be thankful for the richness and diversity we find in each other, a time to believe that the light will pull us through the darkest days.
As the month of December carries on, I hope we have the love inside of us to help nature return it’s full brightness and may we all find a common place to celebrate the light that shines on us all today.