The December solstice, which occurred on December 21, is the shortest day of the year. This day signals both an ending and a beginning.
The word solstice comes from two Latin words: sol, which means sun, and sistere, which means to stand still. At the solstices, the sun stands still: that is, from the earth, it appears that the seasonal movement of the sun’s path comes to a stop before reversing direction.
Just as the sun appears to stand still, we too can stop and remember to connect with the cycles of nature—remember that we are part of something larger than ourselves, something that is always changing and renewing.
Since ancient times, people all around the world have held celebrations and engaged in rituals at the solstice. And although celebrations vary according to culture, people generally consider this to be a time of rebirth.
Whatever celebrations you have planned, perhaps you might want to add something to mark the release of the old and the birth of the new.
Take some time just for yourself, to reflect on the past year, feel happy about your accomplishments, and to let go of whatever criticisms you may be carrying—about yourself and others.
What simple ritual can you do—something with personal meaning—to celebrate the solstice?
Between Christmas and the New Year, I’m going to create a special time, light a candle, and contemplate where I am right now in my life, how far I’ve come, and what direction I would like to focus on. I know that I will want to remind myself to integrate forward movement towards goals with mindful surrender to the fullness of the present. In this way, I know that I will be able to meet whatever challenges arise.
And I will plan to spend more time being receptive to the cycles of the cosmos, to slow down and find a way to be in nature more often.
By attuning the rhythms of our individual lives with the larger rhythms of Life, we can feel more grounded, calm, and stable—not only during the holiday season—but throughout all the seasons of the year
“Let’s put solstice back into Christmas, a celebration for everyone of light coming after dark.”
-Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul