The longest night and shortest day are upon us. Darkness descends so early and lasts so long, that many head to school or work before it is light and then return home in the grey twilight or even well into the dark. Around the world people celebrate the longest night by lighting their own lights to remind the sun to return and to bring themselves together comfort, hope and community.
This year, no matter what your other holiday celebrations, why don’t you have your own festival of lights? It can be as simple as turning off the lights and lighting a collection of candles. Sit by yourself or with your family and meditate on the quality of light and on the grace it brings to our lives.
Perhaps you might share a meal with your loved ones – it can be as elaborate or simple as you like. My family likes to serve a curried winter squash soup because of its brilliant color and seasonal, warming flavor. Add some fresh hot bread and maybe a salad of kale or other dark leafy greens and you are celebrating both the local, seasonal gifts of the earth as well as the joy of sharing good food.
Of course, if you want to get elaborate, it can be exciting to plan a meal based on qualities of light, warmth and the sun’s return. A family friend made a “golden” meal one year: golden beets, yellow squash, corn-on-the-cob, curried mashed potatoes and golden oven-fried chicken. Spices, bright colors and fresh flavors are all good places to start.
As you light the candles and sit down to the supper upon the longest night, read a simple prayer or poem about the sun. For example here is one from the Lakota:
May the sun rise in splendor
May the earth appear in light
This poem came from database of sacred poetry from around the world: Poetry Chaikhana. You can find many other poems here on the subjects of the sun, light and winter, as well as many themes.
Happy Winter Solstice to you and yours – may the returning sun illuminate your lives in the New Year.
This post was created by Laura Wilson