Whether you spent time praying at Midnight Mass, singing around the menorah, or dancing rituals around a fire, this is a beautiful time of year to reflect and redirect the coming year. I hope all of your holidays have been overflowing with laughter and love.
This year, I found myself performing at a Pagan Winter Solstice service. It was a fascinating observation of a holiday I knew nothing about. Come to find out, it has actually been around much longer than other religions and provided a significant amount of inspiration to what Christmas is today. Winter Solstice is the darkest day of the year and took place on December 21st for 2018. It occurs because the Northern Hemisphere is tilted away from the sun and naturally becomes colder and darker with less sunlight. As the new solar year begins and the Earth tilts back towards the sun, warmer seasons arrive. Check out this peppy youtube video for a visual of this concept.
This version of a winter holiday absorbs a multitude of traditions and cultures which is probably why I love the idea so much. Santa Claus is a combination of various gods like Cronos (Greek god aka Father Time), the Holly King (Celtic god of the dying year), Grandfather Frost (Russian winter god), Thor (Norse sky god who rides a chariot drawn by flying goats), the Tomte (Norse Land Spirit who gives gifts to children at that time of year), and more. Even Santa’s reindeer are considered forms of Herne, the Celtic Horned God.
Evergreen wreaths symbolize “the wheel of the year” and the “continuity of life.” Donating time and resources to the unfortunate is also a tradition of sharing good energy and giving back to Mother Earth in gratitude. There are way more cool facts on this site if you want to learn more. This service I attended held a fun spiritual dance around a candle and baskets while those who knew the words chanted a ritual about sending good energy into the new year. Then we were each given a small candle and two singers spread the flame to each individual to symbolize the spreading of love and good fortune for all.
The celebrated “darkest day of the year” has such a beautiful concept. No matter how long the darkness lasts, the sun will always come. The seasons are a natural phenomenon that illustrate an enlightening concept of time and change. Flowers will die and bloom again. Cycles are evergreen and ever-growing. A couple years ago, a dear friend of mine, Kelly Pekar, and I actually wrote a song about this exact idea. If you’re pushing through a difficult “winter” or needing some inspiration for renewal, check out our song, “Letter to Spring” (also available on Spotify, Apple Music, etc.). I hope it speaks to you:
The end of the year can be full of mixed feelings. Achievements, big life changes, and relationships can be intertwined with failures, plans gone awry, and broken hearts. Life isn’t a road that travels upward to a plateau with the occasional speed bump. It is a winding road of many altitudes and sometimes vast mountains. However this resonates with this year’s happenings for you, know that the sun will brighten and warm any darkness and cold you are experiencing. It will almost never be in the timing that you wish, but it will. Faith is tricky but whatever inspiration you find faith from, breathe it. Inhale the cold air and exhale the warm. We are all in this together.
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Cover Photo by Donnie Rosie