Here comes the sun!
The Winter Solstice is the time of year where we gather together with our friends and family for merriment and gift-giving. And while some people like to stake their claim on this time of the year, whether for religious or cultural reasons, etc., Winter Solstice or Christmas is a time of celebration for everybody.
The celebration of Winter Solstice or Yule goes way, way back – at least 5000 years. It occurs between December 20 – 22, when the sun is at 1 degree Capricorn. Solstice means “sun stands still”, and Yule means “wheel”.
The Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year, and also the end of the dark half of the year. From this point onward, the days start to become longer as the sun appears to “return” to our part of the Earth.
In the days of “yore”, there would be no farming and little trade or communication between communities during the time of the Winter Solstice. People were then left to themselves to create entertainment and a sense of warmth, both literally and figuratively. Gathering during the longest night of the year allowed them to ritualistically honour their sun gods, or commemorate the turning of the wheel of the year, while taking advantage of each others’ presence.
Therefore, in spite of how commercialized our Christmas celebrations seem now, it’s important to remember that we humans have been coming together to party every Winter for thousands of years!
Indeed, few people do it for the purposes of “welcoming back the sun”, but many of our holiday traditions stem from the old rituals and sympathetic magic that people would perform to assure the sun’s return. These include the burning of the Yule Log and of course, putting up a tree!
The Winter Solstice is probably the most celebrated seasonal festival aside from Samhain (Halloween). It’s a time of conclusions and new beginnings. Since it occurs in Capricorn, an earthy, practical sign, it’s an ideal time to set new goals and plan for the new year. Yes, even your New Years’ Resolutions are in sync with nature 🙂
There are many ways to celebrate the return of the sun and the dawn of the new year. Here are just a few.
Maintain your current practices and traditions
This one is important. Intention fuels action, so who cares if you find yourself at the end of a long line-up with last-minute shoppers? If what you do stems from love, then keep it up.
Whether you go to church, host Christmas dinner, or pack up your family and have dinner at 3 different houses, it’s all good. It’s all sacred. It can be crazy, for sure, but these efforts toward extreme connection are the driving spirit behind Winter Solstice.
Make a ritual of “mundane” holiday tasks
Redecorating your home and decorating your tree can be household chores, or they can be meditative practices. Those of us who actually do these things tend to enjoy them, and why not? Everybody loves a reason to put up cute snowmen.
Whether you’ve already put everything up or are just beginning, PAUSE. Take a look around and remind yourself of WHY you’re doing it. Here’s one: By decorating our home to reflect the theme of Christmas/Winter, we’re honouring the Earth’s natural transition into the Winter season and the darkness night of the year. As above, so below.
Put things out with intention. Empower your Christmas tree decorations with positivity, and for goodness’ sake, don’t forget to infuse all of your gifts with love and light!
Research the history of Winter Solstice
What a fun rabbit hole this is! If you haven’t already, do take the time to Google the history of Winter Solstice, and to check out books on the topic. I promise, it will change the way you do things, and you’ll never celebrate Winter the same way again. Here’s a good place to start.
Oh, and while you’re at it, research the history of Santa Claus as well! If you have littles, you may want to keep your discoveries to yourself for now 😉
Create your own traditions!
If, like me, you have a young family, then there’s no better time to create your own traditions to celebrate for years to come. Who knows, they may get passed on! You could:
- Create a Winter Solstice altar
- Decorate your own Yule Log (real or cake, you choose)
- Sit in circle and share your goals for the new year
- Ritualistically bless and empower your ornaments and gifts (with Reiki, if you can!)
- And much more… You are limited only by your imagination!
After researching the history of Winter Solstice, think about whether any of it resonates with you. If it does, find a way to consolidate it with your current practices, both spiritual and mundane.
The key is to do something that’s true to YOU. Then, no matter what it is, your family will ride that energy of authenticity and join you in the fun.
For me, this time of year reminds me that although the world seems “dead”, it isn’t; it’s simply resting and regenerating. Mother Gaia is in the process of preparing for a new year and a new cycle, and this is natural ebb and flow must occur within all living things.
Winter Solstice is the time of year when I ask myself:
- What can I finally lay to rest?
- What new journey am I prepared to embark on?
- What “new thing” do I want to tackle this year?
- What can I improve?
- Where to from here?
On the spiritual plane, I usually take the time to do an oracle card reading for the year ahead. On the physical plane, I start to get all my books in order for my accountant. The latter is no less sacred than the former! Remember, it’s all sacred 🙂
May the coming of the sun bring with it blessings and the confidence to achieve your dreams!
P.S. Click here to listen to my favourite rendition of “Here Comes the Sun” by Sheryl Crow. The songs of the season!
This post was originally published on December 20, 2015.