This week marks the official start of winter, a day that isn’t always greeted with the same enthusiasm as the first day of summer is. But, I think it should be celebrated and I have even written about the Winter Solstice and ways to observe it.
Solstice comes from the Latin phrase for “sun stands still” and is the first official day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere. It usually falls around December 21 and this year it does fall on the 21st. It is known as the “shortest” day of the year, because it has the shortest number of daylight hours, which means it also has the longest night of the year.
Why celebrate winter? What I usually hear is that most people can’t wait for it to be over. All that cold weather and darkness makes them wish for the long, warm days of summer. But, winter has been celebrated since ancient times as a season of light and a celebration of nature. Once the Solstice comes, the days begin to get brighter again, and eventually, the summer sunlight returns.
If you think about it, this means that the first day of winter (Winter Solstice), is literally a sign that brighter days are ahead. The shortest day is just that, the shortest day of the year. That means that each day after, starting with the first day after Winter Solstice, each day gets longer and longer, and brighter and brighter leading up to summer.
Considering that it brings us the season of light, here are some reasons that we should give winter the love and appreciation it deserves.
Celebrate your abundance. Since ancient times, stories have been passed down about how farmers would always take a rest on this day to enjoy their bountiful harvest. If you grow your own food, or even just want to appreciate the gift of fresh food, use the day to celebrate your own abundance or the abundance of those who grow your food.
Celebrate the optimism of the day. The Chinese concept of Yin and Yang, which represents balance and harmony in life is celebrated on the Winter Solstice. It is believed that on the Solstice, the yin qualities of darkness and cold are not only at their most powerful, but, also at the turning point to give way to the light and warmth of yang. That’s why the Chinese consider the day a time for optimism and joy.
Simply celebrate the changing of the seasons. Seasons change, that is how the natural world works, and the first day of winter and the Solstice celebrations are a part of nature. Celebrate the healing power of nature and its ability to help you de-stress and enjoy the season. If I enjoy celebrating the first day of spring or summer, then I need to give winter its proper due. I might not be out planting in the garden, or basking in the sun, but I can bring in parts of the outside world to observe the day and to reflect the natural world. Holly and wreaths, pine cones, and even poinsettias, help reconnect you to nature.
Because solstice means sun standing still, that makes the first day of winter the perfect day to rest, and to reflect on the year past. Try to just take some time to simply do nothing, to have complete unscheduled time to relax and rejuvenate.