Celebrate winter solstice with some history of the mysterious and plentiful cultural traditions of the pre-Christian festival. The common theme is the celebration of the shortest day and longest night because it welcomes the return of light. Solstice means standing-still-sun. Ancients celebrated and observed this phenomenon all over the earth. Stonehenge is one site where ancients and moderns observe both winter and summer solstice. It's an awesome manifestation of wonder.
The Pagan winter solstice was an ancient fire festival where oak logs were burned as Yule logs. The lit fires symbolized heat and light, the coming of more sunlight. Yule is an old, ancient Saxon term for the enchanting festival. Out with the old, and in with the new. Pagans and Wiccans traditionally decide what to keep and what to leave as a life reflection is part of the retreat and celebration. You can celebrate by having a fire and saving a bit of it (a burned log) to re-ignite after the solstice. Also use some of the darkness to silently reflect and meditate. Discard the baggage and open to the new light of maintaining that which you keep.
A Celtic Yule winter solstice included the belief that it was taboo to churn butter or turn a wheel on the day. The reflective stillness was taken seriously to think of the time up to the shortest day, and the un-still months to follow. The yearly wheel was symbolized to stop, be still on the standing-still-sun day. You can honor that by not turning a wheel and instead, light candles that are scented and invite friends to stop by and share their reflections. Appreciate loved ones that made a difference in your life, and tell them.
Winter Solstice Symbols
These symbolize protection plus:
- evergreen - prosperity, life continuity
- holly - good luck, old solar year
- oak - endurance, strength, new solar year
- mistletoe - peace, fertility, rest
- ivy - fidelity, healing, marriage, and victory.
You can adorn your home with these, and be assured that the days of sun decrease are almost over.
Connecting with the exemplified continuation of life celebration is a spiritual rebirth with the earth and the sun. It is a celestial celebration with the symbols and bonfires, chanting, singing, feasting, and meditative quiet practiced world-wide. A nice CD to accompany the day is The Essential Winter's Solstice .
Winter Solstice Sun
In ancient times, the people witnessed shorter days and longer nights, and accordingly became alarmed that the sun was gone and death was nearby. Since they weren't armed with the current scientific knowledge of the earth's rotation and tilting near or far from the sun, they did the best they could to handle the natural cycle. It is a spiritual time to harmonize and make sincere intentions. This year the December 21st winter solstice is a full moon/ total lunar eclipse. According to NASA, the entire event is visible from North America and western South America, too. Many gatherings are being held world wide at places like Stonehenge, Avesbury, Macchu Picchu, and other sites that enchant us now. Some of these sites are aligned to a sight of the winter solstice sunrise or sunset or both. The ancient people around the earth definitely were tuned into this solar event. I have been to the three sites mentioned, and ever since then I have felt both the winter and summer solstice awareness as a more natural occasion for celebrating, then the commercial results of other holidays.
Eventually our present day celebrations may return to a fuller winter solstice acknowledgement. Meanwhile, build a fire, share with loved ones, and honor the magic of the winter solstice!