Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Winter Solstice

Late dawn. Early sunset. Short day. Long night.
For us in the northern hemisphere,
the December solstice marks the longest night and shortest day of the year.
Worldwide, interpretation of the event has varied from culture to culture, but most northern hemisphere cultures have held a recognition of rebirth, involving holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations around that time.

BURN A CANDLE ON WINTER SOLSTICEThis is a practice associated with nearly every winter holiday: Christmas and Hanukkah being two that come readily to mind. But did you know the lighting of candles on or around the Winter Solstice dates back to the belief that although daylight hours are short on Winter Solstice, it is time to celebrate the return of the light (we'll gain small amounts of sunlight after the Solstice, starting with one minute increments, daily) and to actually "call" and "hold" the light?

Something very cool and powerful happens when we observe this tradition. We capture a little solar light and magic for ourselves, in the process. We feel healed and and revived, enlivened and energized. Who doesn't want that?! Here's what to do.

Light a white candle on the morning of the Winter Solstice (I light mine at sunrise) and say these words aloud:

Solstice sun, rising in the sky
Power of light now draws nigh
Soon it will be the longest night
Solstice energy, bless my life

Traditional candle colors to use are white to symbolize light itself, green to symbolize enduring life even in the cold of winter (hence the evergreen tree at the holidays!) or a rich red for protection and health during the winter months. If you would like to, and it you can do so safely, you may keep a candle burning continuously all day long, from sunrise to sundown on the Winter Solstice. Older cultures would keep their candles and more specifically, their Yule Log burning from sunrise all through the Winter Solstice night.

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