Writing this on December 21st I thought it was the winter solstice, but I found out that the date for the solstice often changes by a few days and is in fact 22nd December this year. This is the day with the least amount of sunlight in the Northern hemisphere.
The people of many years ago were all stopping to mark something special. These days we are often caught up in the mad pre- Christmas holidays rush and ‘solstice’ might not be on our minds. We just know it is cold and dark and we don’t feel like getting up in the mornings. . There are many cultures and traditions n the Northern hemisphere with ideas around the same theme. People getting together and celebrating together the longest night of darkness and the return of the sun.
In England we have the famous stones at Stonehenge which were thought to have been built 2-3000 years BC. The stones are carefully aligned to point to the rising winter sun on solstice. In many other cultures traditions were created to mark the returning of the sun and to celebrate. The Ancient Egyptians would feast for 12 days and decorate with greenery and plants.
The Romans would celebrate Saturn the God of the sun and offer gifts and suspend the usual orders and rules. Masters would serve slaves, old grudges and arguments would be suspended as people celebrated together.
In Ancient Persia the Feast of Yalda is held on 21st or 22nd December bonfires are lit and dried fruit and watermelons are eaten. Poetry is recited. There are loads of other examples.
So what does it mean for us in 2015 in our busy lives where we are not always in tune with the natural world.. Well, solstice actually means ‘sun standing still’. It is actually quite nice to think about this in our busy lives as we rush around getting ready for the Christmas holidays. It is good to try and take some time to ‘do nothing’, Be kind to yourselves and give yourself more time. The colder days urge us to wrap up warm and protect ourselves. Listen to calm quiet music to calm your inner self, take time to be in the moment, don’t try and look too far ahead.
We are settling in now for the cold months of winter and our bodies need to adapt. Eat food in season and try not to hurry. We can’t quite hibernate like the squirrels and dormice but we can slow down look after ourselves more before the warmer lighter days return.