Monday, December 19, 2011

Finding Light and Life in Dark Times

Thousands of years ago European pagans started the tradition of hanging evergreen boughs and branches inside their homes during winter solstice as a reminder that life remains and will last through the darkest days.

An outgrowth of that, I imagine, was the Christmas tree tradition which began in the same part of the world some 500 years ago, with life-representing decorations of bulbs (like from the ground), apples, and even candy.

Some historians believe that it was actually the Romans who started the tradition (like 2000 years ago), siting the practice of decorating trees with small pieces of metal during Saturnalia, their winter festival in honor of Saturnus (the god of agriculture), and that Christmas itself was a political attempt to satisfy the very old and popular pagan winter festival with the new Christian religion.

The point is that today, the northern hemisphere's Winter Solstice, the shortest and darkest day of the year, is one to celebrate.

Today is our seasonal midnight. It's time (if we remember) to says thanks for all things we have, just like we might do before we go to bed.

Today is a reminder that tomorrow and the months ahead – no matter how dark and difficult things are right now – will always bring the promise of brighter and more bountiful days.

Today is the day with the least amount of light, and we should celebrate our ability to find light and warmth in even the darkest and coldest of days ...

But we have to consciously choose to do these things. That's where celebrations and traditions come into play, they help us remember.

The metaphor is beautiful, really.

And I think it's great to keep this perspective while we busy ourselves with the hub-bub of our modern-day traditions at this time of year.


  1. Yay! I love this post! I always feel alone in my weirdness of preferring to celebrate Solstice more than the commercialized Christmas! Thanks for this Regan!

  2. I read an interesting article that a friend posted on facebook about the energy of the winter solstice. It talked about the yin and yang of energy and how winter solstice is a time of rest so that we can prepare for the energy that the spring brings.... anyways, I really enjoyed it :)