Today marks the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year; since ancient times it has been celebrated with feasts and various religious and cultural traditions to mark the beginning of lengthening of days with an eager eye towards summer’s return.
The Winter Solstice (which is Latin for “sun stands still”) marks the longest night and shortest day and symbolically is celebrated all over the world as a time of rebirth, a new beginning and a chance to witness the dark being transformed into the light. For the Aborigines, this celebration was just that as they could not account for the shortening and darkening of days and feared total darkness:
“In pre-historic times, winter was a very difficult time for Aboriginal people in the northern latitudes. The growing season had ended and the tribe had to live off of stored food and whatever animals they could catch. The people would be troubled as the life-giving sun sank lower in the sky each noon. They feared that it would eventually disappear and leave them in permanent darkness and extreme cold. After the winter solstice, they would have reason to celebrate as they saw the sun rising and strengthening once more. Although many months of cold weather remained before spring, they took heart that the return of the warm season was inevitable. The concept of birth and or death/rebirth became associated with the winter solstice. The Aboriginal people had no elaborate instruments to detect the solstice. But they were able to notice a slight elevation of the sun’s path within a few days after the solstice — perhaps by DEC-25. Celebrations were often timed for about the 25th. “
Most religious holidays are linked in some way to the Winter Solstice.
Although most won’t celebrate this, we must acknowledge how much of the pagan tradition influenced many religions, especially Christianity.
During this time of rebirth is a great time to connect to the inner hermit. In order to usher in birth what will we let go of? Instead of focusing attention on frustrated New Year’s resolutions, light a candle and make a list of those things we find necessary to let go of, releasing all unnecessary pain and outdated attitudes. Burn them, and usher in new ways of being, having and doing…and ways we will be a conduit of Light.