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I hope you like elephants because Ruth Shulman, the queen of elephants, is hosting today’s Winter Solstice celebration! Or, for our friends south of the hemisphere, Summer Solstice.
Don’t forget that you have until midnight tonight to write your own naughty elf story. Read yesterday’s entries and add your own! If you haven’t commented yet for yesterday, you can still get on-time credit. Hop to it! And don’t you dare write me into the story, you naughty miscreants! I shall tell Mrs. Claus, and she will make you sorry. Though I’m not sure Laurel’s going to fare much better after inventing strip dreidel.
Also, remember that our big birthday bash is coming up on the 23rd. If you have a December birthday or know someone with a December birthday, come prepared to join in the fun.
Elf stories! March!
The Winter Solstice: Welcoming the Return of the Light
Sunday, December 21 marks the Winter Solstice in the Northern hemisphere. For pagans it’s an ancient holiday, in some places also called Yule, celebrated in many ways by many cultures but all for the same reason: the days become longer and the harsh winters begin to melt into temperate spring and fertile summer.
In my own tradition, we celebrate that shortest day of the year with the most light. Candles glow on every surface. The Yule tree is a tiny cosmos of every colored light. We surround ourselves with friends and family, the people who provide the light in our lives. If Yule is about anything, it’s about More Light!
We prepare a feast (of course!). Winter can be a time that feels the least abundant of all seasons; we want to perhaps hoard food against the deep chill. Our least modern inner-selves want to curl up into ourselves and save the inner light and heat for ourselves. Yule can get us out of ourselves. Feasting reminds us that the cycle of warmth and cold, light and dark, is eternal. We remember that spring will come. And while we wait, we can eat heartily and toast each other in the warmth of bonfires and love on the day of least light.
Another part of the solstice in my tradition is to welcome the birth of the God. Naturally, in some cultures, this also represents the return of the sun. Sol Invictus, the unconquerable light, appears in many of the religious stories from around the world. Indeed, Gods born on the solstice are often referred to as the Sun God or The Light of the World.
The importance of light around the darkest time of the year was an important event for the most ancient cultures. The Greeks and Romans had their festivals (Haloea and Saturnalia respectively) where celebrants lit huge bonfires. They also reveled in the surrounding darkness, celebrating the eventual fertility of spring.
Today we have scientific proof that light affects mood and health. A mid-winter celebration of light seems fitting, if only to curb the seasonal blues. But it’s not just light in the scientific sense: friends make us light up inside. Light can come from smiles, hugs, laughter, giving gifts, sharing meals. Within ourselves, we each have a Sol Invictus that shines us through the short dark days and carries us into spring.
Good Yule to you all!
- Day 1: Welcome and Introductions
- Day 2: Giving Tuesday
- Day 3: 2nd Annual Holiday Recipe Exchange
- Day 4: Hating the Elf on the Shelf
- Day 5: Blue Christmas
- Day 6: St. Knickerless Day
- Day 7: Beyond Fairytales
- Day 8: Beginner’s Guide to Lesfic
- Day 9: Holiday Carol Sing-a-long
- Day 10: Creating Something Good, Part 1
- Day 11: Healing and Emotional Responsibility
- Day 12: Creating Something Good, Part 2
- Day 13: 3rd Annual White Elephant Gift Exchange
- Day 14: Creating Something Good, Part 3
- Day 15: Holiday Memories
- Day 16: Chag Chanuka Sameach!
- Day 17: Choosing to Believe
- Day 18: Sex Toy Story 2
- Day 19: On love and loss
- Day 20: Elf Pizelle’s Very Bad Day