Though there are many holidays in December, one that is related to nature is the December Solstice. Solstice means “sun stands still.” The December Solstice is the time when the sun reaches the most southerly declination, directly above the Tropic of Capricorn.
In the southern hemisphere, the December Solstice is the longest day of the year. It signals the beginning of summer and a time of rapid growth. Fire is a part of many celebrations, and some folks celebrate by gathering around a bonfire, sharing gifts, and looking ahead to the coming year. Others like to camp out under the stars and watch the sunrise.
In the northern hemisphere, the December Solstice is the shortest day of the year and marks the beginning of the winter season. For many, it signals a time to rest, reflect and plan for what we’d like to grow more of, as the new light emerges. Candles and fire are often a part of the celebration in the northern hemisphere, too. Some families enjoy celebrating the Winter Solstice with a candlelit dinner, lighting the Yule Log and gathering around a roaring fire to share gifts and blessings for themselves and others, as well as a sunrise hike. Feeding friends in nature and creating wreaths can be a symbol of the circle of life and of nature.
My family celebrated the Solstice last night by attending a Solstice Sing-a-long and singing in community. My niece, Jennifer Hintz Eggers is a painter. She shared this painting today to honor the Solstice and the new light emerging here in the northern hemisphere.
These cycles of nature occur both externally and internally as we experience the changing seasons. Sometimes in the busyness of modern life, we neglect to honor the cyclical changes that occur each year. Honoring the seasons is a way of staying in touch with nature and honoring the changes in our lives.
You can co-create your own celebration, taking bits and parts of celebrations that seem to fit for you. What pieces of the Solstice traditions that I’ve shared appeal to your family?