Celebrating Solstice

We celebrate the Winter Solstice in our house. It is a tradition that I find has been a lot of fun and the kids have really gotten into it. The best part is that they’ve learned things by doing it! Ha ha I tricked them. The main things we do are to decorate a ‘winter tree’ and turn out the lights.

During the day of the Winter Solstice I will pop popcorn and fetch some dried cranberries which the kids will then string onto short threads that we can droop over branches of random trees in the yard. In past years we have also done toast with peanut butter and bird seed and various other bird feeder type crafts. The popcorn and cranberries is a pretty constant one though. My daughter likes to hang the food in a tree that she can see from the window so that she can keep an eye on it’s progress. She never fails to remind me the next year of where the best places were to put food for the ‘winter fairies’.

I gather every beeswax candle I can find (I actually buy them specifically for this event as I rarely burn candles other wise) and as the  sun is setting and the last light of day is leaving the sky I strike a match and say a little prayer. Something to the effect of  ‘May we bring the light from the heavens into our homes and hearts. As light fades into darkness may we honor that darkness and the return to light for one cannot exist without the other.’  That light then becomes kind of like the Olympic torch. It is the last bit of light from the previous year as we are now crossing over to the return of the light. From that candle all of the other candles are lit. If we lose that bit of light then we sit in darkness until the next morning.

Earth Hour takes place in the summer for a reason. Winter nights are long and dark. Playing games or reading by candle light is difficult the only thing you can really do is talk and make music together. Most years I have a dinner which keeps everyone occupied enough that you don’t really notice so much and it’s kind of fun. This year I was alone for Solstice. I spent my day in complete silence. It wasn’t really intentional, at around 2pm I noticed that I hadn’t said a word nor turned on music so I went with it. I decorated the maple tree in silence. I said a prayer in my heart and struck the match. I read, I meditated, I did yoga, I meditated some more. I reflected on the year past and what I have learned or gained.

The next morning was bright indeed. I don’t live that far from the city but it is surprisingly dark where I am. No street lights and very few porch lights from neighbours. It’s nice. It’s dark. And you know without question when the light has returned.