THE LONG DARK NIGHT
THE RETURN OF THE SUN
Winter Solstice has been celebrated in cultures the world over for thousands of years. This start of the solar year is a celebration of the return of Light (the sun) and the rebirth of the Sun's power to foster life.
A time to dream and envision of that yet to be. A time to honor the ancestors with stories; a time to tell tales of spirits walking through the darkness.
Ancient cultures built huge stone structures designed to align perfectly with the sun at specific times, such as dawn or high noon. And some ancient peoples performed sacred rituals and celebrated all night, and I'm sure for days.
How will you celebrate? I've been invited to a "ghost story" time in one of San Francisco's historical Victorian hotels. While there I agreed to be filmed with what spirits or ghosts from yesteryear I might pick up. There will be two other mediums. I'm the only one spending the night at the hotel. Hope to get some sleep between ghost visits.
It just seemed like a fun thing to do, sit around and tell stories. That's what our ancestors did during The Long Dark Nights of winter. Stories of their ancient ancestors, of dreams, and visions of tomorrow - spring time. They hoped for better times.
Sound familiar? Yes, we too hope for better times during the winter of our own lives. We wish others Happy New Year!
East to West ancestors celebrated this time of year. Iranian people celebrate the night of the Northern Hemisphere's winter solstice as Yada night. It's one the oldest Iranian traditions that has been present in Persian culture from the ancient years. The pagan Scandinavian and Germanic people of northern Europe celebrated a twelve-day "midwinter" (winter solstice) holiday called Yule (aka Jul, Julblot, from the Norse, Jul, meaning wheel.)
What about your culture? What rituals do you follow?
It's really no mystery or need to be any one religious belief why our ancestors celebrated winter solstice: It began with Nature.
Winter: food became and still can be, scarce. Weather conditions plunge into low temperatures, heavy, cold rains; snow; winds - illness comes easy with runny noses, scratchy throats, pneumonia, influenza and too often death of the old and very young.
Staying alive in a rugged terrain, lack of food, safe shelter, harsh weather - was and is a main concern. I think of "Naked and Afraid" television show.
Bringing joy during a hard time: Our ancestors had to have hope; they had to belief better times were on the way, just like we do. Thus we celebrate life with sharing laughter, gifts, foods, just being together. And, like us today, it begins with a focus, a purpose - rituals - why we're celebrating - thanking a Divine Source keeping us alive.
In olden times families and friends would travel often for miles to mingle and be together just as we do today. Gift giving when visiting the homes of others is a custom nearly all enjoy.
Sprucing up: Decorating trees surrounding homes, decorating inside the home became a festive custom. Red, for the energy of the sun, green for mother nature. Life!
How will you give to those in need? That is part of this sacred time's ritual and celebration. Share what you have - thus we have "gift giving."
With all that said, you understand why Winter Solstice is a most special event. It's about the birth of light, awaiting the birth of the sun. A time to vision what is to come; dreams are vivid as the night's are longer and hope to make it to spring gives life to the mind, body and spirit.
Tonight, if you can, stay up to greet the sun.
How to Talk with Spirits is one of my books available in paperback and eBook. Review more at www.juneahern.com