On Wednesday, December 21, 2016 at 3:44 AM MST the sun reached its southernmost point before starting back on its northward trek toward Spring. Actually it has more to do with the tilt of the earth on its axis and its elliptical orbit but we will leave that to the astronomers. I am just one of those who watches the sun rise and set, notice where it is on the horizon, and give thanks, for I am blessed to be able to see the horizon most of the time.
The winter solstice really only lasts a moment in time, and some of the other terms for the day on which this occurs, are “midwinter”, “the longest night” or “the shortest day”. It really is not the shortest day or longest night. It just refers to the amount of light within a 24-hour period. What winter solstice signals is the return of the light as now the days start getting longer or rather there is a bit more daylight each day, just as it has been decreasing slowly each day since last summer’s solstice. This celebration of light is recognized and honored by many religious groups. From the Roman Saturnalia to the Indian Pancha Ganapati to Hanukkah and Christmas, to the Persian Yalda and the birth of Mithra, and the recent creation of Kwanzaa in 1966, all kinds of cultures have found ways to pay special attention to our source of life and follow the sun.
You may well celebrate this season with your family and friends, give gifts and light fires; you might take a walk in the woods or ski down a mountain or through a forest; you could read or pray or sing. Many of us will eat and drink around a community table. Whatever you do, take some time to do something special that is worth remembering. Stop whatever you’re doing for just a moment in time, for that is what solstice is, a moment in time. Mark this event in your journal or on your calendar with your own special thought and experience. At the least, celebrate joyfully and gratefully and share these moments in your own special ways.
However we choose to celebrate Winter solstice, it can be a time of increasing our “circle of illumination” which is the edge of the sunlit hemisphere. That phenomenon forms a circular boundary separating the earth into a light half and a dark half. As the hours of daylight begin to increase, we can expand our awareness of the essential connection between us and that other force that makes our world such a fascinating place in which to be fully alive and an active participant.
We have this opportunity to make a connection between our minds and that which we can observe in our natural world and our spirits and that which we can sense in the ethereal realm. Let that be our personal “circle of illumination” this season, increasing the light and appreciation for these wonder-filled celebrations during the holidays. May your holidays be full of the richness of renewal, the energy of enthusiasm and the brilliance of beauty. Such are the gifts laid before us. Receiver and embrace them with GRATITUDE.