The December solstice marks the shortest day and longest night of the year. Winter, the season of dormancy and hibernation is underway. From the outside, things may seem barren and harsh, but deep underground, the beginnings of new life are starting to take shape.
Each season is vital and important. They are also deeply symbolic of various stages of life. The Winter solstice reminds us that even when it seems progress has stalled, beneath the surface things are coming together that lead to new opportunities over time. Life is cyclical and progressive just like the seasons.
Traditionally the Winter solstice serves as a time to honor and celebrate the gradual return to longer days. It is a time for inner reflection and focusing on hope and new promise. All major Winter holidays have a similar theme of rebirth and renewal. In fact, many modern day Christmas traditions have their roots in ancient Solstice celebrations.
In Ancient Rome, the week long celebration of Saturnalia included observance of the solstice. There were parties and homes were decorated with evergreen trees. Lamps were lit and it was common to visit family and friends and even exchange gifts. Yule is another ancient festival celebrated around the Winter solstice, marking the return of the sun and celebration that Spring was on its way. Celebrations with feasts and yule logs served as an affirmation of hope and gratitude.
Solstice is a great time to focus on pruning away what has been holding us back, while simultaneously focusing on sewing new seeds of opportunity. Before Winter sets in, it’s common practice to prune certain plants and trees, to remove the old growth that has withered in preparation for the new growth of Spring. Rituals at this time often focus on similar themes of letting go and opening up to new ideas.
Take time to focus on areas that you have outgrown, that are no longer producing good things in your life. How might you remove them to make room for new potential? This is also a great time to develop plans. Focus on an idea or goal and then plot out the steps required to help you reach it. Many take this time to focus on coming New Year’s resolutions, but it seems often the deeper symbolism is lost. In fact, most people make resolutions not really expecting to keep them. Instead, focus on the seasons and natural transitions in life and allow that energy to guide you and help you grow.
Also take time with loved ones to share and be thankful for the love and support they offer you on your life’s journey. The Solstice and all of its accompanying holidays all offer us an opportunity to reflect on blessings and a renewed spirit.