Today is a special day. It is the shortest day of the year. The Winter Solstice. When the sun sets today the longest night will start and at dawn the summer sun is born as the days gradually get a little bit longer. I love the duality and the magic of this time. The idea and fact that in the middle of the dark grey winter the summer is born. The days getting longer is truely something to celebrate. And humans have been doing it since the dawn of time.
In many spiritual paths wether its Christmas and the birth of Jesus, or the Winter Solstice and the new born sun, or you celebrate Chanuka the festival of light or Pancha Ganapati in honur of the god of culture and new begingings, in human collective world culture we all agree that this is a time of celebrating joy, light birth and new beginings. The amount of spiritual tradtions bulit around this time of year goes to show that before the internet, electricity and indoor toilets and way back beyond the time when you were just a twinkle in your great grandparent’s eyes the winter solstice was important to us as a species.
Today Christmas has become a holiday that many celebrate not out of faith but out of habit, family culture or just simply because they get time off work as it’s a national holiday. It has become indesputably commecialised and many people feel that the true spirit of Christmas is forgotten about. Now what that is can spark a whole different debate so we are not going to go down that rabbit hole today. And that seems as shame to me as beyond the coca cola red santa or the pre christmas bargin sales, we all have a basic need of celeberating the good in our lives here in the midwinter.
Now I have always loved Christmas ( I am my mother’s daughter). However, the tinsel did start to be a little too guilded as I grew older. Not because I didn’t enjoy the time, I just couldn’t find the sustenance in it and that for me took some of the joy. By shifting my focus to the Winter Solsitice, to celebrating the themes of birth and light and creating my own tradtions I have found a way to shed light on the magic and recconect with the joy in my life as I do at no other time of the year, that I would love to share with you.
So how did I do it? Well I simply took inspiration from the Yuletide traditions that made sense to me. I kept the parts I love of my childhood christmases, the tree, the presents, the eating lots of good food and combined it with other tradtions that make sense to me based on the themes of light, joy and rebirth. By refocusing on Winter Solstice and the returning light I feel not only more connected to the world around me I feel it sheds life on all the good I have in my life, giving me reason to celebrate and at the same time the birth of summer brings my awareness into the work I would like to do in the coming year. My own personal cocktail of spiritual celebration and personal development work.
So instead of moaning about the commercialisation of Christmas or grumbling and stressing why not take some time this year to create your own tradtions to celebrate the light in your life now and the light to come.
Here are a few of the tradtions that I have adopted, created adn personlised that bring me joy at this time of year. I hope they light a spark of inspiration for you to find your own – Merry Solstice xxxx
Bringing in the Green
Throughout history mankind has decorated both homes and tempels with everygreen plants such as ivy, pine or holly. In some tradtions it was to keep bad spirits away, in others to encourage the return of the summer sun at solstice. To me these plants represent the coming of life and the perseverance we have to survive and evolve. Every year we go out into the forest and collect some everygreens and take them home to create decorations with hot chocolate or mulled wine. There is somthing very primal about this acvity and is a fun way to start the celebrations.
The Yule Log
The custom of burning the Yule Log goes backin time and is thought to be originally a Nordic tradition. The Yule Log was originally an entire tree or gigantic log, that was carefully chosen and brought into the house and decorated with ever greens with great ceremony. The log burnt for 12 days (the original 12 days of christmas) and then after the ash would be taken out and spread on the fields to bring abundance and fertility to the crips they would plant in the spring.
Every year I work with seting goals and manifestation of my dreams so I have interpeted the Yule log tradition into this process. Each year I use some of the evergreen I collect to make a sunwheel which I hang in the home all through the year and then burn on winter solstice with my yule log. Then I collect the ashes and spread them on my vegetable garden ready for the new plants and seeds in the spring.
Being grateful for the gifts in life
This time of year has been, and still is, a time of celebrating the living people in our life that we love. A huge theme that has survived throughout history it the tradition of giving gifts. The people we give gifts tend to be our nearest and dearest. Giving gifts is in a way a chance to acknowledge the gifts these people bring to our lives. By looking at these gifts consciously we can begin to identify not only why people are important to us but also why we need to learn the teachings their gifts bring to us. At Yule I chose one of the people who are important to me in my life and look at the gifts they bring to me or how they enrich myh life. I then write them a letter thanking them for the gift they bring to mylife and telling them how much they mean to me.
My light in the world
On solstice night some people like to light candles to wecome back the sun. I have interpreted this in a different way. I light 3 candles but for a very specific purpose. Each year at Winter solstice I look at my personal gifts that I share in the world. And I choose 3 that I want to celebrate. I light each candle say I bring the gift of …….. to the world and I am grateful and proud that I am able to share this gift. This simple ceremony reminds me to be proud and grateful of myself. No matter how up or down life is we all give the people we care about something by being in their lives, this is a great way to celebrate and honour how great you are.
Random Acts of kindness
At this time of year I love to go a little above and beyond to share random acts of kindness around. By looking at the gifts I have in my life I feel so thankful and I want to be able to to spread that feeling of joy around. So weather its a random donation here or donating your time there it all makes a difference and brings a smile to your lips 🙂
Inner Child day
An important part of my yule time traditions is my inner child day. Fo me the winter solstice is the perfect time for me to connect with my inner child so I reserve one day that is for her. I do stuff on that day that I always loved to do as a child or always wanted to do. The inner child day is just a day for creating your own kind of fun and spending your time the way you love it best.
As I said before I work alot with goal setting and manifestation in my own life. And I see the birth theme of the wintersolstice deeply connected to this. I don’t, however, set my goals until febuary. Instead I use the time from Solstice to feb to prepare and plan. When the solstice dawn has come I find this is perfect time for me to review the previous year and begin to gather my dreams and thoughts for the year ahead.
Solstice night and solstice dawn
I find the solstice a magical time of year and wherenever possible I like to spend the longest night with people I care about eating good food and sharing stories, if possible around a fireplace. And then in the morning I go out to see the dawn. A sunrise is a beautiful thing but for me it is evening more magical when you know that the one you are watching is the first one where the day gets a little longer. I find it gives me hope.
I hope however you spend your holidays you take sometime to enjoy it and spread some of the new coming light into your life this year
Merry Solstice <3