*This post was originally published on 12/21/2013 but is being reposted below with a few updates*
No matter what our spiritual beliefs, or what part of the world we live, we all share the turning of the sun on the solstices. Today is the 2016 Winter Solstice, or better known as The First Day of Winter.
The Winter Solstice/First Day of Winter is the longest night of the year, marking the beginning of winter and the return of the sun. After this night, the days will begin to get longer and we’ll see that we have the opportunity for a new beginning.
This is a natural time for letting go and saying farewell. Release your resentments and regrets into the darkness, knowing they will be transformed with the return of the light. Renew your visions for the new year and remember that it is important not to judge yourself by “success” or “failure” in this past year but by the true quality of how you lived your life and whether you were a good influence on your world.
In the coming year, try to create enriching experiences for yourself and continue to look forward. You can shape your life more positively, with awareness and intention. Dedicate all of your happy, joyful experiences to every living being that is able to share that good energy, and dedicate all of your painful, difficult experiences to uplifting yourself and others.
Death and rebirth, the passing of the old, and the slow emergence of the new. Helping one another through the dark. Sharing with the less fortunate. Being thankful for our past blessings and for prosperity in the future. The natural cycles of our world. All of this is the spirit of the season I celebrate.
This year for the winter solstice, I plan on lighting some candles and reflecting on all of the things I’m grateful for from the past year and letting go of all the resentments I might hold. For anyone that has lived through 2016, you can probably agree that this could be a really helpful step for preventing so much negativity in the coming year. I want 2017 to be better, not just for me, but for the world. This is what I will reflect on tonight with my candles. If you’re interested in doing the same, it’s really easy. Here’s what I’m going to do:
- Write down my resentments and regrets from this past year on a post-it note
- Write down my visions/resolutions for the new year on another post-it note
- Quietly reflect on the negative note, and then let all of those feelings go. Burn the note with a candle.
- As I burn the note, I’ll begin to focus on the positive for a new year and make a promise to myself that I will try to create enriching experiences and do all that I can to positively shape my life in the coming year.
Celebrating the solstice/winter is very easy, even if you’ve never done it before or are just starting out. Here are a few other ideas:
- Greet the sun at dawn on solstice morning by ringing bells.
- Create rituals, having feasts (pot-luck), and a gift exchange
- Create your own family tradition by gathering in a circle around candles. Each person can light a candle and talk about something they’re grateful for or something they wish for another person in the coming year.
- Gather around a bond fire and have each person state what they would like to give up about the past and what the envision for the future.
- Light candles: a different candle for each of the twelve months on the 12 days before the solstice. Light the center candle on solstice day (represents the return of the light)
- Contribute to wellness on the planet: donate food or clothing, meditate for world peace, make a pledge to do some form of good in the coming year.
Creating a meaningful celebration of winter solstice can help us cultivate a deeper connection to nature and family and all the things that matter most to us.
Happy Winter Solstice, everyone!