That's right...as if there weren't enough to do with all the holiday celebrations we're throwing in celebration of the change of season. Tonight we'll be standing by a toasty fire on a California beach, enjoying what we consider winter weather (hey...it may almost freeze sometime in the night), each other, and maybe some s'mores and hot cider, hot chocolate, pretty much anything we can get hot!
What's winter solstice, you ask? It's the day of the year when the sun is the furthest south as the earth tilts. It's the shortest day of our year, the longest night and marks the first day of winter. Celebrations of this day around the world predate the other "reasons for the season," Christmas and Hannukah, by centuries. The ancients told stories about the reason the sun rests, doubted whether it would return, held ceremonies to entice the sun back to it's long days' work growing the foods people needed. So it just doesn't seem right to skip it. (Plus, who doesn't want to hang out with friends by the campfire?)
Many of the traditions which we attribute to various churches predate those organizations. The evergreen, now used as a Christmas tree, was also celebrated by Romans, Druids, and Scandinavians. The 12-days of Christmas date back at least as far as the Mesopotamian celebration of the vernal equinox with festivities no much akin to those we see (in courteous company) today. In Scandinavia, the darkest days of the year were celebrated with large gatherings, food, yule glogg and yule log. Think of the energy savings if we all shared a house for nearly two weeks in the deepest, darkest, coldests days (and nights) of winter, with only one house to heat and plenty of food and drink to keep everyone satiated.
Join as at the beach, in the forest, in the desert or your backyard and celebrate this, the shortest day of the year, and the promise of longer, sunnier days ahead.