Along with the end of the year festivities, don’t forget this coming week, to celebrate one of Earth’s important anniversaries. That’s right. December 21 is THE FIRST DAY OF WINTER. It's the WINTER SOLSTICE, the shortest day and the longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere. On December 21, the earth’s orbit, in the northern hemisphere, is the most inclined away from the sun. SOLSTICE is a Latin expression that means "sun stand", because the morning sun's appears to momentarily stop its progress in the sky, and then abruptly begins its decline.
In the past, people in the northerly latitudes knew this moment as the was most critical time of the year for survival. Therefore, ceremonies were held to assure continued existence – to assist the Sun on its path and to celebrate the return of the light. According to ancient Germanic folk practices, December 21 was called Yule, and it was celebrated by fires, lights, special foods, and singing. In more recent times, "Yule" and "Yuletide" are also sometimes used interchangeably with Christmas. In this cold and relatively dark time, we long for greater light and warmth. For this reason, this date has been remembered as the change of dark to light, cold to warm, shortage to plenty, and death to life. Because of this symbolism, the Solstice represents an important opportunity for us to examine our lives and seek out balance.
If we are strong in spirit, we can, at this time of year, consciously deal with the least comfortable parts of our lives. And even as we acknowledge the darkness, we can feel gratitude for what we do have and for the chance to continue our lives in the New Year. In this way, Solstice gives us the opportunity to heal our selves from our weaknesses and to enrich our relationships with other people and, importantly, with our EARTH.
So, use this day to create your own personal ceremony. Your ceremony for Solstice can be whatever signifies to you living through the stark challenges of winter and striving for a better year to come. Some of the rituals that people often do at the Winter Solstice are lighting the Yuletide log, lighting up candles, saying special prayers, meditating, listening to inspiring music, and singing spirited songs.
Note: Don't let the advertisers and other spokespeople for monied interests, co-opt this time of year. It's definitely, not in the spirit of Solstice (or of Christmas, for that matter) to increase our personal debt and consume all kinds of things that we don't need.