Our First Winter Solstice Celebration

Our First Winter Solstice Celebration

 

2015 would be the first year we would put concentrated effort into celebrating Winter Solstice and more importantly, explaining the meanings and symbols of the season.

We decided to keep the celebration low-key with an emphasis on understanding all the ritual and symbols behind our celebrations. I hope that through this post, you’ll be encouraged to do something similar or will gain a new dimension of understanding to your already established practices, otherwise it’s just another day with no meaning.

{Decorating the Tree} An evergreen tree typically always stays green (hence the name) and so it symbolises a promise that the sun will return again to its former glory and that the wheel of the year will bring Spring about soon. In my family, we don’t particularly follow any godforms or pantheons, but other families choose to incorporate Saturn, Cronos, Father Ice, Odin, Tonantzin, Ra, Isis and so on.

To keep it natural, Benjamin, Aaron and I spent some time collecting pine needles, pine cones, shells and stones in Ruidoso and the Franklin Mountains to add to our clear ornaments. Just spending that time outside was magical in itself! For the accents, I chose various shades of  orange, red and gold ribbon as the theme to our tree. These are great solar colors, the symbolism of which you’ll read more of below.

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Here are some other Solstice tree decorating ideas from Circle Santuary:

  • Decorate an evergreen tree as a Yule tree. The tree can be a living tree growing in the yard of the home or in a container indoors to be planted outside in Spring. Or, the tree can be a harvested one purchased or cut yourself from a tree farm.
  • The Yule Tree can be decorated prior to or on Solstice for the entire holiday season. If decorated prior to Solstice, on Solstice day, family members can each add an ornament. Members may want to speak a blessing on the Solstice celebration as they add their ornaments. Ornaments can be of any type, but those that represent the Sun, such as sun figures or shinny red or golden balls, are very appropriate because of their symbolism. A star, sunburst, or light at the top of the tree is another traditional Solstice symbol.
  • Electric lights on the tree can also play into the Solstice celebration. They can be first turned on during the Solstice celebration. Or, if the family custom is to have a lit holiday tree for much of December, the lights can be turned off during a celebration as the family focuses on the year passing and the longest nights of the year and then turned on to represent renewal and the new Solar year.
  • After the holiday season is over, the Yule tree can be burned in a bonfire, chopped up and used as mulch, or placed in the wilds as additional habitat for wild creatures. A branch can be saved and stored away until next year and then burned with the Yule Log to represent the continuity of Nature’s cycles.

{Telling Stories} Since this was our first year celebrating Winter Solstice, I checked out a few children’s books from my library and even bought a few for our permanent collection. Here are some of the books we got:

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  • A Solstice Tree for Jenny by Karen Shragg
  • The Return of the Light: 12 Tales from Around the World for the Winter Solstice by Carolyn McVickar
  • The Winter Solstice by Ellen Jackson
  • Celebrate the Solstice by Richard Heinberg
  • The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice by Wendy Pfeffer
  • Creating Circles & Ceremonies: Rituals for All Seasons & Reasons
  • Holiday Cooking Around the World by Kari Cornell

There are many more books you could check out for Winter Solstice. About.com has a great list HERE.

{Community Service} As is mentioned in several of the books we read and it’s also the driving factor behind Thelema, we want to make this world a better place. It’s also good to remind ourselves that it’s just as important to as it is to get. So here’s a few things we proactively did this month:

  • We went through our house and donated stuff to Savers.
  • Spent some time volunteering

To keep the gift of giving a year round thing, I signed myself up as a volunteer on United Way of El Paso’s website. They keep a constant stream of ‘needs’ flowing, so I can pick and choose whichever needs we can realistically fulfill any time of the year.

If you live in El Paso, you can also sign up! Go to: www.volunteerelpaso.org 

{Food!} Of course, it wouldn’t be called a ‘Feast of the Times’ (as Mr. Crowley calls it) without the actual feast!

  • Wassail – I had sooooo much fun with this recipe. I even bought some copper mugs for proper presentation! HERE is the recipe I used.