You probably already know that today is the winter solstice and to most people, that means very little. Yes, it does symbolize the beginning of winter, and it is the longest night and shortest day of the year. But as a holiday, it gets lost in the madness of Christmas. While people are driving themselves crazy trying to think of what to buy for someone they know nothing about, this hugely symbolic and richly traditional day will come and go, and most people will never observe it. Solstice is a celebration that includes Eastern philosophy, pagan theology, and new age practices. To my husband and I, the winter solstice is our celebration. We decided to forego the Christian upbringing we had as children and celebrate a general appreciation for the planet.
While the thought that winter is now upon us may cast an image of darkness in the mind, I like to think of it in a positive way. Starting tomorrow, the days will slowly become longer and longer. The sun will flirt with the earth, waking up earlier in the morning and lingering for a few extra moments before it bids the day goodnight.
The key is to keep warm, nourish your soul and feed your spirit with all of the love that you have in your life. Be more mindful, relax and practice patience, and remember that after this beautiful, darker time of the year, spring is just around the corner. But for right now, be present and enjoy the time that winter allows for us to go deep inside, heal and take care of ourselves. Nature naturally provides us with warming foods for the wintertime, foods such as root vegetables. These winter foods help balance out the season, store energy, and strengthen one self. Cooking long and slow meals, like hearty soups and stews can also help seal in warm energy, comfort, and heal yourself.
The earth has spent more time orbiting the sun than all the religions, all superstitions, all of humanity, and even of all life itself. The actual meaning of Winter Solstice is that it signifies the shortest day during the winter, and the lowest point of the sun. As of today, each day grows longer until June 21st. The actual word ‘solstice’ translates to “sun stands still” since during each year’s two solstices (winter and summer) the sun appears to halt in its gradual journey across the sky. Many cultures around the world recognize the Winter Solstice as a rebirth of the sun. Traditionally, people would participate in some sort of nature ceremony to give thanks for the abundance of the summer and fall seasons, as well as celebrate the sun’s return.
Since this day is about celebration, rebirth, and nourishing yourself, I hope you take the time to go within and celebrate your kind journey. Almost any kind of nature based celebration is a great way to honour the return of the light. Take a little hike in the woods or walk along the beach, join a yoga class or take a special bath.
Do you have anything planned in celebration of the solstice? What does it mean to you? What winter dishes do you love?