The world outside my little house is peaceful, quiet and dark on this night of the midwinter solstice. I always find that there is so much beauty in the darkness; I want to cherish and honour this tonight. Even the origins of the word solstice* hint at a time of contemplative stillness.
I’m humbled by the realization of just how many festivals are being celebrated in different traditions around this time of year. My own social media is full of lovely Merry Christmas wishes, alongside Midwinter Solstice and Yuletide Blessings alike. My Jewish friends have just completed their celebrations of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, while African Americans are getting ready to celebrate Kwanzaa. There is the special importance of Three King’s Day in Hispanic cultures, St. Lucia Day in the Caribbean, and of course, the imminent beginning of a New Year. According to Terry Jones’ (of Monty Python) beautifully hilarious “Pressed Fairy Journal” even the hidden folk celebrate the Unfairies’ Gathering around this time of year… And let’s not forget about the many secular Winter Festivals held in the northern hemisphere.
Now, I am not suggesting that all of these festivals are somehow related to celestial events; while this is true for some of course, each festival and tradition has its own important background, root in history and cultural relevance. I do however suspect that there is a significance in the fact that they all happen to take place around the middle of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Through all the different traditions and belief systems, I think that there is much beauty and light in the common humanity of gathering in celebration during the darkest time of the year.
Tonight I will gather around the fire in the spirit of this community. May all your festivities be filled with peace and joy!
*“sol” means “sun” and “sisto” means “stop” in Latin