Winter Solstice is more my Sacred Holiday than my family’s. They always celebrate with me, but the meanings for us are different. My husband is more science than spiritual and the kids are still young and exploring everything as they should. So when they do celebrate, we do things that correlate with my own customs but in ways that are meaningful to them
Winter Solstice is one of my most sacred days though. For me it is like the New Moon for the entire year. It is the beginning of a new cycle. It is my new year. So we came up with a fabulous plan to embrace that.
Between now and then, each of us is going to choose one goal we want to accomplish over the next year. We are leaning to a more skill related focus, something we want to develop and hone over the next year. By keeping it a skill, it gives us direction and eliminates the wishing aspects.
The day before Winter Solstice we are going to string popcorn. We will hang this in the trees around the property on Winter Solstice for the animals here.
So now onto the day itself! That morning I am going to have each person state their goal and tie a ribbon around their wrist. This ribbon is going to be their reminder of the goal they set. As they look at it throughout the day they will focus on their goal and imbue that energy into the ribbon.
We have decided to make a turkey for the feast itself, that way we have something special to give back to the land that evening. After the feast we will go string up the popcorn, take food down to our feeding spot for the wild animals here (ravens, turkey vultures, eagles, foxes, deer, racoons, possums, skunks, and whoever else shows), and then go over to the redbud tree next to the Ancestor circle. Here we will take the ribbons off of our wrists and tie them in the tree. So we see them any time we are outside or walking the property. A visual reminder of the goal we set for ourselves. I chose the redbud tree because it is a symbol of the coming spring – the coming awakening of the earth. It will bloom while it is still technically winter and the frosts still come. It is like a prelude to spring and when the outward work begins.
The winter is for planning, letting your mind explore ideas and the imagination run wild with possibilities. The spring is where we start outwardly working on those plans, learning and experimenting with all our ideas. Through the summer we will nurture and feed those plans. In the fall we reap what we sowed, reflect back on the journey, celebrate and rest. Then it begins all again. The cycle of the year.
Our world seems so tied to traditions, but perhaps we should shift the focus to customs. I know some people see these as the same, but for me there is a clear distinction. Traditions are passed down and repeated in their entirety. A custom is something we create for ourselves and practice as something personal. Yes, a custom can turn into a tradition but I hope mine do not. I don’t want my children to do exactly what I did because I want them to do what holds real meaning for them and their own personal path. They can take from my customs if they choose to, but I hope they do it as an inspiration and not instructions. They should alter them, expand upon them, making them something that holds meaning for their own path. We do so much just because it is the way it has always been done – but I see it go from a thing that holds deep meaning, to a thing that we just go through the motions. If we are just going through the motions, we are just wasting our time, energy, and holding ourselves back. You can disagree with me, that’s ok, but this is how I see these things.
I know many people, especially those new to this path, are looking for ways to celebrate the Winter Solstice. My advice is to first ask yourself “What does this season represent for me? Why do you want to celebrate this day?” Then look around and listen to what others have done or doing – not to copy it but to get inspiration and ideas. Then develop something that reflects the answers to your questions.
If you have children and want to incorporate them so they can get a glimpse into your practices or just celebrate with you – Think about things that allow them to participate in ways that are fun to them. If it is your first year doing this, make it something simple. Telling stories, decorating a yule log or small tree, picking a goal like we are, having a bonfire, color together, the ideas are only limited by your imagination.
Make the holiday meaningful to you.
I will also be doing things for my Deities and Ancestors later in the night, but that is a whole other post for another time.
From our family to yours – We wish you a wonderful Winter Solstice season and winter holidays no matter what you choose to celebrate!