Winter Solstice~Harbinger of Growth to Come

goddessThis time of year is magical for me in many ways and grey in others. The waning light is always hard for me. I don’t always feel merry and bright when it’s dark and, well, just icky outside. That’s why I look forward to Winter Solstice like a Green-Woman waiting for Spring. I love the woman

No matter what your spiritual persuasion, Christmastime is a time of celebration. For me, it’s a promise of brighter days to come and thankfulness for the harvest life has blessed me with in the previous months. I love the presents and the candle-making (which I do in my grandmother’s double-boiler so I feel closer to her and her traditions) and the card-writing, and every moment spent enjoying communing with those I love, those I really like a lot and those I’d like to know better.

This time of year for me is about people, love, light and tradition. It is a glorious time because we want to love and relate to others and become better people.

So, I feel like I should start with tradition. Yule is the celebration of the longest night, relinquishing itself to the light half of the year. Yule varies according to the Gregorian calendar from December 20~23rd . Traditionally bonfires are lit, crops and trees are “wassailed” with toasts of spiced cider and cheers to wish health upon one’s crops, especially apple trees. stock-photo-evergreen-bough-with-red-bow-5922727Evergreen boughs symbolize immortality and are connected to the Divine. Evergreens symbolize the ever-green spirit in all of us, even in our darkest moments.

Wheat is used to symbolize prosperity, plenty, the culmination of the harvest spent during the cold-winter’s-night, triumph, light and life. The pagans may have used this symbol first, but isn’t it interesting that WATERFORD CRYSTAL has used it in their toasting flutes and Christmas ornaments in time immemorial. millennium ballflutes

Often, as a child, I received an orange, actually lots of oranges, in my stocking. I didn’t realize what a gift this was for Scandinavian people and all people of the North who would have treasured citrus at this time of year. I thought it was weird and cheap. Now….?… I think it’s really cool. oranges

So, what are the traditions for celebration in your family? Do you have a favorite food or decoration or tradition that symbolizes the season for you? Please share. I’d love to hear it! Happy Yule, Merry Christmas and May Your Celebrations bring Light and Love into your Life.IMG_7781

15 thoughts on “Winter Solstice~Harbinger of Growth to Come

  1. I remember getting ‘the orange’ and knew that it was ‘special’ at the time. It was a real treat. Now I have several orange trees in the back yard, and we can’t give them away! Maybe I’ll wrap them up and give one to each of the grandkids with a note about my Christmas ‘back in the day.’

    Thanks for reminding it!


  2. We got oranges in our stockings as a kid. Growing up in Baltimore I knew how hard it was to get them in the winter in the 1960s. I loved peeling them slowly, savoring every bite, enjoying the scent of orange on my hands.


  3. In my family, my grandparents put nectarines on the dinner table on Christmas Eve. One in front of each china set with a candle inserted in it. We would light them at dessert time and sing Christmas carrols.


  4. I can’t remember a Christmas without oranges in our stockings. After dinner Mom would roll the orange until softened, then cut a hole into the center and place a soft stick of peppermint inside. Yum! I do love the idea of candles too!


    • Dear Carol, I love the idea of peppermint in the oranges. Now I have some new traditions to start! I bet the table looks beautiful with the candles in the oranges as well. This is such a festive time of year :). Happy Holiday to you!


  5. As a gardener the seasons have always held a special place and each is celebrated. Add in there a few friends who celebrate these times with pagan rites and well,…lets just say I realize how important these naturally occurring times are, and that they have been celebrated for probably as long as man has walked the earth. For me, the Winter Solstice simply means it won’t be so blasted dark so early in the * day *.

    Just as the seasons change so has my celebration of Christmas. This year I failed to put the wreath on the door. I meant to do it. It’s sitting in my foyer. I never got around to it. It seems a little late and slightly silly to do it now. As a child, I stared in amazement at the wonderful Christmas tree. Guess I never noticed that most of those were planted in the yard. Today they are behemoths and I’m sure the present owners have no idea they once were decorated with lights, balls, and plenty of tinsel.

    We must have run out of planting spots, as the tree became white, could be pulled apart, and stuck in a box. It was replaced with a modern aluminum one. It twirled and didn’t requite strings of light because it passed through a beam of colored light. That first year it was okay because it was different. The second year I hated it. There was no third year as I probably threatened my mom over it’s possible erection. My mom decided on mantle and table decorations. Then she went back to artificial green trees. At least by then, they looked a little more like real trees without the scent.

    But I left home and became a poor, broke newlywed. I inherited a small artificial tree, and took it without complaint. By the third Christmas of my marriage I had two choices. A really nice artificial tree or a cut tree that cost more than the artificial one. I took the boxed one. Then during one of our moves I disposed of that big box. We went back to cut trees.

    Today, I don’t want to wrestle with a tree on the car, re-cutting the trunk, having to drag it into the house, and get it into the stand. (Which my animals will use as a water bowl.) So I’ve skipped it. This year the holidays will pass with almost no fanfare. That’s okay. I’ll visit with my children and admire their decorations, spend some time with a writing buddy, come home to house that’s filled with memories, and welcome the few extra minutes of daylight.

    Memories are good. Happy Yule!


    • Dear E, Happy Yule to you! It’s funny how we associate Christmastime with memories from childhood no matter how old we grow. The real vs. artificial tree debate is interesting to me as I have friends solidly in each camp and rather emphatic in their support of their chosen kind of tree. For me, I just love seeing trees decorated. Toward the end of her life, my grandma had a ceramic tree with electric lights that she only had to plug in. I still have that tree and plug it in every year. It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t try to approximate a real tree, it’s just kind of cool to feel closer to her when it lights my bow window. It’s not too late to hang your wreath. When I was working so many hours, we didn’t even get the tree up and decorated until the 24th. True, we kept it up much longer than our neighbors, but since there is snow here late in the season, it wasn’t that odd. Maybe it was, but I am fine with that 😉 I’ve never been able to get decorations up immediately after Thanksgiving, but my neighbors are so I choose to think of my late December decorating as extending the celebration of the season. Enjoying time with friends and family is the heart of the season. Sometimes skipping the decorations is the right way to go. See how you feel next year. Maybe it’s just not the right fit this year, that’s always okay. This time of year is always dark for me too, really in figuratively. Sometimes I have to roll with that too. Like you, I’m always thankful when the days grow longer and the brightness begins again. May your memories always bring you joy. Here’s hoping our gardens grow even more beautifully in 2013!


    • I hear you on that one, Stephanie! Those twinkling lights really add to the ambiance for me and they raise the joy level exponentially with every string added! Have a wonderful holiday season.


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