Winter Solstice, in the northern hemisphere, is the shortest day of the year, when the earth’s tilt is at the maximum point away from the sun, and used to be a celebration of great importance to our pagan ancestors. This is because it represents a true turning point in our calendar, from the solstice onwards there is a slow but inexorable return of the light, and winter solstice has been celebrated for thousands of years as a time of new beginnings and rebirth.
The solstice date varies from December 20 to December 23, depending on the year in the Gregorian calendar, and this year will occur at 05:30 on December 22, 2011. Is it a coincidence that the later Christian celebration of Christmas falls at roughly the same time? It certainly might have been easier to blend old and new beliefs by sharing the dates with what was already a festival of feasting & making merry.
As this darkest day of the year draws near, I find my energies turning inwards like those of the Earth herself. It’s a time for dreaming & visioning, reflecting on the year gone by and reconnecting with nature. A far cry from the frantic scramble around the shops buying last minute gifts, celebrating the solstice is a wonderful excuse to opt out of commercialism for the day & have a ball in nature instead!
Our beautiful Island has abundant opportunities for a blissful experience of nature, and it’s one of the few times I’m drawn to the woods, rather than the coastline. Children love to get in on the act, and it’s a great chance to teach them about the cycles of nature and the changing seasons. It’s traditional to “bring in the green” on this day, something that’s continued to this day with the bringing in of the Christmas tree, and it’s wonderful to ?go out into the woods and see what you can find…
Last year we took our children, Jazzy & Fynn, for a walk around America Wood in Shanklin & came back with bagfuls of sweet chestnuts, which we roasted on the fire. This year we’ll be off to either Brighstone Forest or, much smaller, Gladices Copse just behind our home in Chale. We’ll be on the lookout for holly, ivy, pine and maybe even mistletoe, so it helps to carry a basket, garden snips and a pair of gardening gloves. On our return we’ll have great fun making a wreath from what we’ve gathered, creating a nature shrine, & wrapping greenery anywhere possible!
If inclement weather prevents an outdoor adventure, then you can celebrate the solstice by lighting a fire or a candle, and spending some time feeling connected to our mother planet. Look out of the window and notice how all her abundant energy has withdrawn deep inside, ready to emerge again in spring.
Draw a picture, write a poem or make list of things you’d like to come into being in your life as the light increases daily.
Dream it in! Happy Solstice to you all!