Today is the Winter Solstice and we celebrate it with Yule. In my part of the world, it is very dark as the light does not arrive until way after seven am and it is dark by 4PM. Yule is often misrepresented as a counter to Christmas. It is the other way around. Update info…. according to the below website: The solstice is traditionally celebrated at the sunrise closest to the time when the sun is stationary before beginning its transit to the north or south. This year this occurs late on 21 December, hence the winter solstice celebrations take place at sunrise on 22 December. http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=2146414227
By the early-to-mid 4th century, the Western Christian Church had placed Christmas on December 2. The actual words of the Second Council of Tours were: “There are feasts on each day between the Nativity of the Lord and Epiphany, except the three-day period on which our Fathers established for the beginning of January private Litanies in order to tread down the custom of the pagans. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas
Yule is a celebration of hope and prayers and blessings. It is also a solar event marked by celebrations that have continued for eons such as in the circle of Stonehenge. If I could, I would love to witness the light beam of the sun striking precisely at the same location for centuries marking the swing of the earth on its axis. In the northern hemisphere, it is the growing of the light and the beginning or the rebirth of the earth.
This time of year affects me deeply. I got married eight years ago on the 22nd. It was not a romantic reason, but a survival one. I had been facing the possibility of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I did not want to get sick and die and leave my partner stranding with no home or provisions. We were both dirt poor, in school, working crappy jobs and his daughter was living with us in my house. I wanted to make sure he would have the house. I also did not want to be unmarried, plain and simple. So we got married in a very simple ceremony at the Town Hall. I did end up with a tumor but it was not malignant. The marriage has survived although it has been difficult at times. But that is part of being married.
This “season” has been turned into something I feel is very ugly. I hate the greed and the focus on commercialism and money. I cannot control it, and I do feed into the system by shopping for presents. I used to make a lot of my gifts but I do not have time anymore because I work. I used to make a ton of cookies and candy, but I have cut that way down because everyone including me does not need the extra calories. Nothing says loving like spending hours making homemade truffles and peanut butter balls to have people turn their noses up at them and look at you like the enemy.
My biggest indulgence is in the decorating of my house and environment. I bring in greens but I have to be careful with things like Mistletoe and Holly and Poinsettias because they are all poisonous to little dogs and cats. I do put up a crèche on the mantle but that is in honor of my mother. The house is covered with lights. I have them in the windows, on my plants, on my tree, and out in the garden. The sparkle and glow fills me with joy and wonder. We love to drive around the village and look at the decorations and lights. They string white lights in the trees going down Main Street and all the little shop windows are filled with more lights. Our little town looks like it could be in “It’s a Wonderful Life”. There are rumors that it was where the movie was based on; our town and/or Seneca Falls, which is very close.
On the days I work, it is very possible for me not to see daylight at all. I counter this by making sure I have an abundance of electric lights with real incandescent bulbs on in my work space. I even have a string of lights with tinsel and bulbs handing off of it. You can see my office reflecting on the low ceiling when you enter the area on the second floor. People are always amazed when they walk into my office as it is a completely different feeling then the rest of the building. But I also have sprayed it with sage and have other “things” that change the atmosphere in there. It is my oasis of safety.
I still sit out in my chair in the cold, covered in blankets and coats. I am not out there long. But the sky at this time of year is spectacular. It is so crisp and the stars sparkle brightly. Tonight I will light candles and wish for a bright future and good health for myself, my family and friends. I will give thanks to all the wondrous things that have happened this year. I will remember my ancestors, especially my mother. This time of year was particularly special for her. She was the one who instilled my love of nature and gardens. I think if it had been another time, she would have been more into herbs and medicinal plants.
I honor the Christmas traditions for my husband and his family. So in the next weeks there will be a lot of get-togethers and feasting. Actually, that is the Pagan tradition. Their celebrations lasted for twelve days, reminiscent of the song. His daughter is back from California after nine years. Although she will not be staying with us, it will be good for father and daughter to reunite. She is staying with her mother’s family. I have to work so I will not go with him for their visit which I think is actually best. We have already visited with my family yesterday, which is always short, but sweet. We will spend Christmas with his massive family.
My favorite time is when my husband and I curl up in our chairs with blankets and little doggies in our laps, and watch old movies from our collection of classics under the glow of the tree and lights and candles. “All is calm, all is bright.” Blessed Yule everyone.