Happy Winter Solstice!
There are three long winter nights across the winter solstice (21st December) which seem endless, still and dark. The days are so short. For our ancestors, it must have seemed endless. Preparing and waiting for the return of the light, the longer days the shorter nights must have been an act of faith.
The World Slows Down.
At the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, the sun appears to pause before the return to shorter nights. The word solstice means “the sun stands still.” Its a powerful thing to imagine the whole world stood still, pausing just long enough to breathe! All the hustle and bustle of life stopping for a moment, how lovely!
But the act of waking is dependent on remembering. Remembering and marking the still points, the pivots, the turning points like the Winter Solstice. We remember because we use ritual as a way of passing on the knowledge, of handing down the remembering. In this way, our holidays become a ritual with meaning. The seasons become increments of measurement that span our life time and full of ritual and meaning.
Holly Wreaths, Advent and Meaning
Did you know that the holly wreaths hung on our doors are part of ritual? This is because they symbolise the turning of the year, the complete year, the cyclical nature of the seasons. The ritual of the Winter Solstice and Christmas.
Do you remember John Noakes on Blue Peter building the tinsel covered coat hanger every year to celebrate the advent? Lighting a candle each successive weekend helped to mark the passing of time and create a sense of anticipation which lead us towards the main event. Nowadays this ritual and meaning is harder to find as we speed onto Christmas day, heading into a single day of pressure from which few families escape unscathed. This year, Christmas is gifted with a full moon (and a meteorite shower) to add to all the fun!
How do we find meaning?
This year there feels a waking up to the need to find more meaning and celebration for our family. Part of this idea of ritual is built on anticipation. Traditionally there are four advent weekends in the build up to Christmas. This culminates in a huge feast and celebration to mark the return of the light . For those without religious belief, how do we build anticipation into the weeks preceding Christmas? For us it is to look for and find meaning in the old festivals, the old rituals that carried our ancestors forward. Marking the winter solstice being one such celebration. Pausing to keep faith in the earth that keeps turning, the seasons that change and the light that will return.
This year too marks a very special event for both of us as we take a step off the corporate ladder to forge the next chapter in our story together – Primal Cut! We’ll take the celebrations, the full moon and the meteorite shower – to mark the beginning of the first day of the rest of our lives. So here’s to new beginnings. And on this winter solstice day, may your hearth always be warm, your food plentiful and fresh and your life filled with love and laughter.
We hope to see you at Baildon market tomorrow!
With very best wishes to all for the Solstice and for a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!