Thursday, 22 December 2011

celebrating light

For the last several years, we've been celebrating the winter solstice as a family (because with a birthday and Christmas and New Year's, there aren't enough celebrations in December... :). Last year my brother hosted a solstice party with hearty French onion soup for supper, a bonfire outside, and snow angels and fun in the snow. We're looking forward to another party at my brother's on Friday evening and they're even calling for snow! (fingers crossed)

This year's solstice is officially today - December 22nd. Celebrating the shortest day of the year and the coming of the sun's light has been a meaningful experience for our family. We have paused to think about people for whom this IS a long night - people who are suffering or homeless, people going through hard times, people who have lost loved ones. We have lit candles, sung songs, eaten marshmallows around a fire, prayed, laughed, played, and watched festive movies in our new pjs.

Traditionally, the yuletide was a time to set aside animosities. In Norse tradition, enemies met under a bough of mistletoe to lay down their weapons and declare a truce. So many festivals of light (Hannukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa) are celebrated around December 21st - people gather to celebrate while the sun is miraculously making its way closer to us in the northern hemisphere again - another reason for celebration.

I've heard of other ideas for celebrating the winter solstice:

* turn off the lights in the entire house and eat dinner by candlelight

* make beeswax candles

* give out new pajamas to get everyone through the longest night of the year

* have a bonfire, sing songs, eat roasted marshmallows

* make tin can luminaries

* sing songs about light, like "This little light of mine," "Siyahumba," "Walking in the light," "Children of the light"

* make sugar or gingerbread cookies cut into "light" shapes like candles and stars and suns

* wear glow-in-the-dark bracelets and necklaces from the dollar store

* use glow-in-the-dark fimo sculpting clay or glow-in-the-dark acrylic paint for crafts

* go carolling/wassailing

* offer some wassail (glorified mulled cider with optional brandy) to friends and neighbours

* say a yule prayer at the evening meal, in thanksgiving for all of the year's blessings and in mindfulness of those who have less

Below is our little home movie made in tribute to the turning of this season. The girls are singing the chorus to "Children of the light": We are children, children of the light, we are shining, in the darkness of the night, hope for this world, joy through all the land, touch the heart of everyone, take everybody's hand." The song that's played after that is "The Solstice Carole" written by the Wyrd Sisters, sung by saffie.


  1. Beautiful! Thank you for this video to start the day. Songs to keep singing in my head today as we celebrate solstice. We will be having a bon fire tonight wearing our new PJ's. I want to teach Megan and Erik the songs from the video. We light a candle each night for dinner - tonight we will eat by candle light and the light of the Christmas tree. Thanks Rebecca - for adding even more meaning to this day!

  2. thanks for sharing your thoughts and your video...the voices, the words are all lovely.
    we'll be making treats for our feathered friends today, and burning a fire in the early evening. here in virginia, i'll think of you in canada :)
    happy solstice to you...

  3. Thank you! You light up my life!

  4. Thank you for your thoughts and this video, Rebecca!

  5. You are such an inspiring person. Thank you for taking the time to do this blog. I love your girls' singing :)

  6. That was beautiful, Rebecca. Thanks for sharing.
    Your song was so very special, Zoe and Eden.
    Merry Christmas to each of you.

  7. Shauna - thanks! Hope you guys had a great evening.

    Michelle - I'm thinking of your family in Virginia. Hope the tree treat-making went well! Happy solstice to you too.

    Linda, Melissa, Kristen, Sandra: thank YOU! I'm touched by your words here.