Celebrate the winter solstice

No one knows the exact date of Jesus’ birth. In all likelihood Jesus didn’t know the exact date of his birth—people didn’t keep careful track of such things back then.

These days we choose to celebrate his birth on December 25, and, once again, no one seems to know why. It’s possible that it coincides with ancient Roman solstice celebrations. Some believe that it falls nine months after Mary received an eye-opening visit from the angel Gabriel. Whatever the reason, December 25 it is. How I wish it were a few days earlier.

If it were, we would celebrate a lunar eclipse, a full moon, the winter solstice, and Christmas all at once. 

How cool would that be?

Ancient cultures had no light pollution to blur their connections with the heavens. CSI Miami episodes didn’t distract them from their contemplations of the night sky. There were no fenced yards to separate them. Ancient people nestled together looking up at the sky each night for guidance. They measured time by the moon. Eclipses were times of awe and wonder. Celebrations bubbled up for the winter solstice and the return of the light.  I picture bonfires, drum beats, singing, and dancing with wild abandon. We Canadians need something like that now.

During dark, cold January in Canada many of us ask, “What light?”

A solstice celebration reminds us that the light never disappears—the sun holds its steady place in the universe. The ground on which we stand tilts to change our perspective on it, but soon our tilt will bring back warming rays. A solstice celebration gives us the push we need to persevere through the darkness and look toward the light. And celebrating the light is a universal human concept.

No matter what faith, or lack of faith, people have, we all look to the light.

The bright lights of my city will prevent me from enjoying a pure glimpse of the night sky tonight. By-laws will prevent me from lighting a bonfire in my backyard. Respect for my neighbours—I don’t want to cause them worry—will prevent me from singing and dancing in my yard with wild abandon. But tonight I will take my dog for a walk in the light of the full moon, and maybe do a little twirl or two. When I come home I will light a fire, put on music with a good drumbeat, and I will dance in my living room with wild abandon—right beside my Christmas tree.


About Arlene Somerton Smith

Writer, laughing thinker, miner of inspirational insights, sports fan, and community volunteer

Posted on December 21, 2010, in Belief, good faith and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. nice story, Arlene. I went out that night to look up at the full moon and wish my Dad a Merry Christmas.

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