The winter solstice, Dec. 22, has been celebrated in cultures the world over for thousands of years. As the shortest day/longest night of the year, this start of the solar year is a celebration of light and the rebirth of the Sun. We have all completed one more official journey around the Sun.
Many of the customs, lore, symbols, and rituals associated with the Solstice have survived into the 21st century so let's see how we can join in this ancient celebration to bring love, light, joy and meaning to this season.
ENLIVEN YOUR SURROUNDINGS with the color red. The color of the sun is energizing, and symbolic of love, courage, warmth, fire. Wear red sweaters, scarves and hats, light red candles, bring in red flowering plants (the red poinsettia is a great one). The color red has a powerful effect in the darkest days of the year to lighten your mood and create a festive, heartening atmosphere.
ADORN YOUR HOME with sacred herbs and colors. Decorate your home in holiday colors red, green, and white. Place holly, ivy, evergreen boughs, and pine cones around your home, especially in areas where socializing takes place. Hang a sprig of mistletoe above a major threshold, an evergreen wreath on the front door to symbolize the continuity of life and the wheel of the year. Bring in a Christmas tree with colored lights.
CONVEY LOVE to family, friends, and associates. At the heart of the Solstice was the custom of family and friends feasting together and exchanging presents. Continue this custom by visiting, entertaining, giving gifts, and sending greetings by mail and/or phone. Play games, enjoy children, roast chestnuts over an open fire (what fun). Consider those who are and/or have been important in your life and share appreciation.
HONOR THE NEW SOLAR YEAR WITH LIGHT Do a Winter Solstice Eve ritual in which you meditate in darkness and then welcome the birth of the sun by lighting candles and singing chants and carols. If you have an indoor fireplace or an outdoor fire circle, burn an oak log as a Yule log. Decorate the inside and/or outside of your home with electric colored lights.
PARTY HEARTY on New Years's Eve, not just to welcome the calendar year but also to welcome the new solar year. Celebrate and remember how much the sun means to our planet earth, bringing heat, and light.
CONTRIBUTE TO THE MANIFESTATION OF MORE WELLNESS ON OUR PLANET Donate food and clothing to the poor in your area. Volunteer time at a social service agency. Put up bird feeders and keep them filled throughout the winter to supplement the diets of wild birds. Donate funds and items to non-profit groups, such as churches and environmental organizations. Meditate for world peace. Work magic for a healthier planet. Make a pledge to do some form of good works in the new solar year.
PRAY Take time for self-reflection, contemplation, meditation. The darkness of the winter solstice time supports going within to give thanks, receive spiritual guidance, and set intentions for the upcoming year. This is one of my favorite prayers:
In my busy-ness, I sometimes forget to stop and give thanks for all the blessings in my life. I am truly fortunate to experience abundance, health and aliveness. I am grateful for the simple joys of laughter, for the ability to love and be loved, for the opportunity to witness everyday miracles.
I give thanks for mother earth, for the animal kingdom and the marvelous wonders of the natural world.
I am grateful for a mind that thinks and a body that feels and for my family and friends.
I am thankful that I do work that I love and that I bring value to people. I am even grateful for the valleys, the dark nights of the soul, and the uncertainty that sometimes burdens my heart. It means that I'm alive and that I've allowed life's betrayals to teach my heart wisdom and patience.
I am grateful for the Light of a new day and infinite possibilities waiting to be born. Thank you for allowing me to witness random acts of kindness in a sometimes dark and hurried world. It gives me hope and allows me to see the Divinity in every human being. Thank you for absolutely everything, for my life and for this breath.
CELEBRATE As you think about setting goals for next year, take some time to write down and celebrate everything you have accomplished this year. Keep your focus on your successes. Be careful of negative self-critical thoughts coming in when you remember the goals you did not achieve. Put those on your list for next year.
CELEBRATING keeps our focus on the positive and attracts more for us to celebrate. Take this energy of celebration with you into the new year and keep it with you throughout the whole year.
However big or small the occasion, look for excuses to be in a state of celebration. You can celebrate failures too. They open doorways for something new to come in. Your positive attitude will make sure you attract more positivity and goodness.