Monday, 21 December 2009

Day 21 - Virtual Advent Tour - Happy Solstice Day!

The Winter Solstice - Light and Dark

It's my turn to post during this lovely virtual advent tour, and I was going to do a post about the meaning of the winter solstice, and some of it's history, but I see that Mariel at Where Troubles Melt Like Lemon Drops already posted about it today! She did a fantastic job, and I've linked you to her post. She has beautiful winter scenes with sun light and sunset posted. But do not fear, I had two or three ideas I was tossing around up until I saw her post, so, I'm moving on to the theme that I love most about the winter Solstice - the darkest day of the year, and the coming of the light.

I know that from a very early age I was aware of nature - of the trees expecially, and the mountains and the sea also, when we lived in British Columbia. We were raised as Catholics, although quite early in my life my mother stopped going (she married a man with a different faith) and so I became free to explore other religions as I became older. I wasn't consciously doing this; I joined a Christian bible study group when I was twelve, with my best friend, and for a year I studied the bible with them. Even at that young age (as I know now it is) it didn't satisfy any questions I had, and I knew that while the Bible held answers for other people, it didn't hold many for me. I no longer celebrate the religious aspects of Christmas, yet I still celebrate this time of year. I don't know when I first heard about the changing of the seasons, and the shortest days and longest days of the year. It has taken me many years to understand what I celebrate exactly - and it's the simple astronomical fact that today is the shortest day of the year, and the longest night. I celebrate the coming back of the light.

So this is our tree this year:
I tried to get a photo of the tree lit up in the dark, but this was the best we could get from our camera last night. What I love best are the lights on the tree. We have our favourite decorations on of course, ones that have to be on the tree every year. Sometimes the garland is on, sometimes it isn't. This year we have two colours of garland!

What remains the same is the tree. For us here in Canada, of course, we have pine tree forests all over the country. So it's like bringing in a bit of the forest to celebrate nature at this time of year. And the evergreen is the tree that stays green in the northern hemispheres, year round. Our tree lit up is, for me, a symbol that day will come again, that the light will come back, the sun will return a little bit longer every day, and life will continue. It's a little symbol of eternity brought into our house. And it's some light against the long dark night. I love lights on our Christmas tree! I love looking at the outside decorations at night all along our streets, and going to my friends' houses to see how they have decorated and especially, when they turn the lights on. There is just something about light at this time of year that I really respond to.

(By the way, I do admit that this is a small tree, bought by my English husband who thought it was a wonderful size. I said maybe in England it is, but over here this is small and piddly. After everyone exclaimed over it's size two years ago, he has now promised me a larger tree for next year. He admits that perhaps the star on top could be a little closer to the ceiling. It currently sits two feet below it!!)

Today, being the winter solstice, I will be thinking about light, and how we need it to live, how the planet needs it to support all life. What a wonder it is that we have the sun, and that we have the changing of the seasons, so that we see life unfold before our eyes every day. For me, this is the end of the year, the last day of the old year's light. Tomorrow will dawn a new day, and a new year, for the sun will come back just a little bit more tomorrow. So this is the last day of this year in terms of the sun's light. Once I realized that, I understood that this is what I celebrate instinctively. When we open all our presents on Christmas Day, I see it as celebrating the new year. By then, we know the sun is coming back to us. This time of year is a big long festival of lights and presents to welcome the sun, and the new year. I like the idea that giving gifts - and receiving them - encourages abundance all through the year!

I also know that for you, My Gentle Readers who are in the Southern Hemisphere, that this is the day with the longest sun's light, for you! Isn't this part of the mystery and magic that is the universe all around us? Part of the fun and wonder of this advent tour is seeing how this time of year is celebrated in all its myriad ways around the world, in our lives and in our homes. May you feel the magic and wonder of this time in your lives. Happy Holidays! Happy Solstice Day to you!


mariel said...

Oh right back at you Susan! This is definitely one of my favourite reasons to celebrate...especially when it involves eating, drinking and spending time with friends!

We have so much more snow here that usual for Decemeber though, and its making life a bit difficult. We Brits (especially southerners) are rubbish with the snow, we don't get it enough to know what to do with it. Maybe I'll stay home for a snow day tomorrow ;)

Lovely post, thanks for sharing!

Susan said...

Mariel: My husband was following the snow story, and most disappointed his parents didn't see much of it! how much did you get there where you are? It looked like quite a bit from your photos, close to what we have on the ground here. It also looked very cold in your photos! I think a snow day sounds like an excellent plan for you! :-D

It was fun writing the post, and even better that you and I wrote about different sides to celebrating the solstice! So thank you too.

Eva said...

I loved this post Susan, and I totally agree with you that I celebrate the season for the solstice!

Susan said...

Eva: thank you! and it's good to find other people who like the solstice too - i think most of us do anyway, because we all come from long ago the same cave people who needed the light to live! Have a happy holiday, Eva!

Literary Feline said...

I can relate to your spiritual journey and being drawn to the cycles of nature.

I hadn't really thought of the Christmas lights in the way you describe before, but now I probably always will.

Thank you for your wonderful post!

mariel said...

Yesterday was horrendous with the ice, but seems to be turning to slush today. I had so much fun on Sunday though, it was a lot more snow than we're used to in the south, and it got down to -6 (that's chilly for us!)!

DesLily said...

your tree may be small-ish but it is beautiful! (knowing ME I'd have found a small table or something to put it on just so it looked bigger ! lol)

I hope you and your family have a most wonderful Christmas!!!

Julia Phillips Smith said...

'Our tree lit a little symbol of eternity brought into our house.' - How beautiful.

Really loved this post, Susan, and the shots of your tree. Its glowing colour is sweetly renewing.

I just realized that I met you through this Advent Tour last year.

Lesley said...

I think it's funny that your husband thought the tree size was just fine (because you're right, I did think it looked a bit small!).

It reminds me of my first Christmas in Georgia (after moving from Halifax, NS). I thought it would be neat if my husband and I went and chopped down our own first Christmas tree together, so we went to a local tree farm. And I was flabbergasted. Where are all the Christmas trees? These aren't Christmas trees! Turns out spruce and fir and the typical trees we're used to can't grow this far south - I didn't realize and my husband never realized there was a difference, he thought these trees were Christmas trees - and the only thing you can get that grow here are limp cypress trees or some kind of pine. NOT Christmas trees in my book! So after that we started buying the real trees shipped in from up north, and have since switched to an artificial tree.

I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday!

Cath said...

Lovely post - just popped over to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas. Hope to catch up with my blog reading after the holiday.

Memory said...

I love this post! The light is by far my favourite thing about this time of year. I love that we honour the darkest night by covering our trees with lights, lighting symbolic candles, emerging from the darkness. Even the sky glows in a way that just isn't possible during the warmer/lighter months. I often turn off all my lamps, open the drapes, and sit there with just my tree and the sky to see by.

Kailana said...

Thank you so much for joining in for another year, Susan!

Susan said...

Literary Feline: Thank you! and thank you for saying you can relate to my spiritual journey. Some day I'd like to have a lovely long talk over tea with you!lol Given the thousands of miles between us, this will have to do for now....

mariel: I know that by Christmas Day everything had melted and gone in Essex, where my husband's family is. But still cold, I hear?

DesLily: Thank you, and have a most Merry Christmas to you too, Pat! and now fantastic new Year, since it's almost Dec 29th already!

Julia: you are right! We did meet here last here! what a wonderful year it has been getting to know you, too :-) fellow North and South admirer! and Canadian....I hope you had a wonderful Christmas - and now we're on to the New Year. Happy New Year to you!

Lesley: thank you so much for your story, it was delightful. I'd forgotten that there aren't any natural pine trees there because the Christmas I was in Florida (long ago in the 1980's) my mother did find a pine tree, and it was big and bushy, to put up. We have an artifial tree now too because we don't have a car and it's so difficult to get a tree without one! I miss the pine smell, though, do you? I hope you had a Merry Christmas this year, and are having a lovely New year.

Cath: thank you! I popped into yours too......still busy with visitors and holidays and now back to work, so I'll catch up in the New Year! One day!! lol Happy New Year in the meantime!

Memory: what a lovely response, thank you so much. I like sitting in the dark too, looking at the tree lights and other times, the stars in the sky. All my kids know to look for the moon now! It's a full one in three nights time (New year's Eve), by the way. I like the night, too. I hope you are having a wonderful season, and Happy New Year to you!

Kailana: thank you! I know it's been busy for you and Marg, so thank you once again for hosting it :-D