Updated: Dec 22, 2022
Solstices happen twice per year: one announcing the first day of summer, and one the beginning of winter, in the Northern hemisphere. The summer Solstice is the longest day of the year, while winter is the longest night.
From ancient times, humans have gathered together around the fire to help one another make it through the long, dark nights in the cold time of the year. On the Solstice, the tradition has been to celebrate the turning of the season, and with it, the beginning of the return back to Spring, sunlight and warmth once again. In a number of cultures, this has been symbolized by the return of the Sun God. In Christianity, it has become symbolized by the birth of Christ, which was signified by the dawning of a bright star in the sky, guiding all to the rebirth of light and hope.
In psychological terms, this makes a lot of sense too: The carrying of a "transitional object" is one way that humans cope with chaos, upheaval and change, as Linus from the Peanuts comics carries his security blanket with him everywhere. (Maybe the littlest theosopher is on to something!) We are instinctively drawn to sources of light and warmth, evergreens, and the holly with its red berries that signify that life can persist even in the face of the (temporary) death of the world. Bonding with others helps ensure cooperation for survival, and reduces isolation and depression. Plus, it's just plain fun to visit others for a holiday party and to give or receive little tokens of appreciation.
In ritual terms, the Solstice is also a good time to honor a turning inwards. Let yourself rest, as Nature is resting before taking up the mantle of life once again. Reflect on your year. Find gratitude for the things this year has brought you. Take time to acknowledge the people in your life who have helped "your heart be light" at this time of the year. Take a long, hot bath, or clean up your house and make things cozy and festive. (doing some research on the concept of "Hygge" can give you some great ideas for this!) And remember to light a candle or put up some holiday lights to see your way through until tomorrow.
Local to Florence? Be sure to join us for our 5th annual Winter Solstice Lantern Walk on Dec. 21st, starting at 5pm on the boardwalk in Old Town. View the invitation HERE.
You can read CNN's 2022 article about the Solstice HERE.
Want even more Solstice? Here's an article about celebrations around the world on History.com.