Happy Winter Solstice to all and Blessed Yule!
Today, December 21, 2013 marks the Winter Solstice this year. This is officially the first day of winter, the longest night and the shortest day of the year. Winter Solstice is also known as Yule, Christmas and Saturnalia. In the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice is typically around December 21-23rd and is the day in which the sun’s path stops moving toward the sky. Solstice literally means “sun stands still. Days will now stop growing shorter and will start to lengthen again. This is a time for festivals and celebrations for Earth, for the new Solar year and the beginning of winter. The solstice is linked to the idea of rebirth. It is a time for inner renewal.
Tonight is the Winter Solstice and will be the longest night of the year, it is a magical time of transition. After this day the nights will start to get shorter and the days will become longer. As the waxing Sun grows in strength in the coming months the earth will start to blossom once more.
Build a fire of Oak in honor of the Sun God and speak your wishes into it’s flames for the coming New Year. Eat drink and be merry.
I have my own tradition as a way of celebrating. I started my ritual Winter Solstice celebrations four years ago in 2010, and have carried on some of my own same traditions, as well as created new ones to develop the holiday as well as ways to include Eric and develop new traditions for us together. Whether it is Christian or Pagan or Traditional or whatever you want to call it makes no difference to me. This is something i started for myself, four years ago while i was going through a very difficult life transition. I had always celebrated the Christmas holidays with my family as a child. However, as i got older and begun to develop my own beliefs and ideas i started to question my reasoning for the celebration. What it boiled down for me was a time to share and spend with family and loved ones. During the Winter Solstice of 2010 i was in Wichita, KS with no means to spend the holidays with my family in West Virginia. I had begun researching the Solstice in terms of traditions and meanings behind the celebration and it made sense to me, and made me happy. I wanted to come up with MY OWN tradition to celebrate the Solstice. I had always celebrated or at least acknowledged the Summer Solstice so it only made sense to me to celebrate the Winter Solstice as well.
The way our culture has come to celebrate the December holidays often leaves me feeling more miserable than merry. All of the shopping, the stuff and the stress seems to crowd out the anticipated joy of the season. I decided to start a new tradition: honoring the original December holiday, the winter solstice. The winter solstice as well as the summer solstice have become two of my favorite holidays and reasons for celebration… mainly because it is completely rooted in nature. It is not commercialized or stressful. It doesn’t matter what one believes or doesn’t believe, it just is. People from the Celts to the Hopis have celebrated the solstices for over centuries.
I came across a website, EcoHearth, that had some really great ideas for celebrations and they had a recipe for Winter Solstice Vegetarian Chili. I make that chili every year now! I spent that first year alone, enjoying my chili, delicious wine, lighting candles and meditating. After that, Eric joined me in my celebration. Along with my Winter Solstice Chili and wine we read stories and passages to each other about the Winter Solstice and celebrations and meanings.
Last year we started a new tradition for the two of us and incorporated a Yule Log into our celebration. We took a day and went out in nature, in search of the perfect log along with all the greenery and adornments to make it perfect. We stopped into the A.R.E to get a special devotional candle and decorated our log together. This is another tradition we will carry on. We then keep our log and burn it during our Summer Solstice Celebration.
Today is a beautiful day in Virginia Beach. I will start my special traditional Winter Solstice Vegetarian chili in the crock pot and Eric and I will head down to First Landing State Park in search of the perfect log and greenery to decorate it with. I plan on going to the A.R.E for another new candle to add to last years. We will come home and decorate our log, enjoy our chili and wine and special holiday ale, relax and enjoy time together. After our log is done, we will have a special meditation session with our log, blessing it and preparing it for us, energetically. Gifts aren’t really a big part of our celebration, but this year we decided to get each other flasks for our Solstice. We thought it was a fun idea and neither of us have ever had one before. I also went out and got some special new toys for the girls to enjoy.
The Winter Solstice is a time for new beginnings. To reflect over the previous year and plan for the new year. Some traditions say that the mood for this day sets the tone for the year to come. Suggestions to create a great year ahead are to let lose and have fun! Drink, be merry, feast, dance, sing, make love and enjoy your day. Do not let the stress of daily life infringe on the day. Do the things you enjoy and set the tone for a great year to come. I plan to!
There are many rites, rituals and celebrations that are historical or traditional, and I took the ones that made sense to me and geared the celebration toward myself and what felt right to us. If you are interested, here is the link for my traditional Winter Solstice Vegetarian Chili.
But most of all…