Gentle readers, I think we can agree that 2020 has been a royal kick in the balls (which I don’t even have), and I, for one, am just plain worn out. Christmas, as it’s traditionally celebrated, is hitting me like fingernails on a chalkboard this year because it demands jolliness, joy, and energy I do not have. I’ll celebrate it with my parents because that’s what we do, but in my own little hibernaculum, we’re taking it more gently and enjoying the Winter Solstice instead. This month I want to dive deeper into the 12 “lights” of Solstice that make it a special time of year all over the world, but specifically right here at Stately Salrin Manor. Here’s what I intend to cover in the days leading up to Yule:
1. Worldwide Solstice traditions – how do other cultures celebrate the longest night and return of the light?
2. Evergreens – why do we decorate with them, and why do they feel so damn cozy?
3. Gift giving – why now? How did it get to be the consumerist craze it is today? How can I give gifts that are meaningful?
4. Kindness and service – why does the Salvation Army only ring their bells at this time of year? And how can I give back all year long?
5. Feasts/Baking – again, why now? Why do we only make certain treats at this time of year?
6. Spirits past/passed – why do they talk about “scary ghost stories of Christmases long, long ago” in songs and stories?
7. Yule Log – what’s behind this tradition, and how do we still honor it today?
8. Light – how do we hold on to the light of the shortening days as the season goes on? How do we stoke our own fires?
9. Shade – how do we embrace (or at least endure) the darkness of the season? How do we face our own shadows?
10. Wishes – why do kids write their wish lists and send them to Santa? Why do we make wishes at Christmas/Yule?
11. Animals – where did the legends and stories that the animals can speak on Christmas Eve come from? How can we honor the birds and the beasts during the dark half of the year?
12. Divination – how do we look ahead to try to see what the new year will bring? What other forms of divination do people practice around this time?
Time, energy, and circumstance will tell if I can make my way through all of these ideas in the manner I’d prefer, but stay tuned to see if I can make it happen! Until next time!