Today, many people in the world observe various seasonal celebrations during the month of December. Most of the customs, lore, symbols, and rituals associated with “Christmas” are actually linked to Winter Solstice, a celebration of ancient Pagan cultures.
Whether or not you follow a traditional religious observance such as Christmas, Hanukkah, or Winter Solstice, this time of the year has close ties with the laws and cycles of our solar and planetary system. We human beings are intrinsically interconnected with the Earth; we are an integral part of solar and planetary activity that affects us in visible and invisible ways. Heaven and Earth touch every aspect of our lives, and it feels good to honor the cycles of nature.
I personally enjoy celebrating the seasonal natural cycles of life such as Winter Solstice. In ancient cultures Winter Solstice was a time of great celebration, for it meant the turning point of winter and the eventual return of spring. It is a time of balance and change. This celebration has been associated with the return of the Sun, hope, rebirth, renewal of the spirit, and the victory of light over the darkness.
Indeed, the winter cycle is upon us now. December 21 marks the Winter Solstice, the shortest day and the longest night of the year. The sun begins anew its journey toward longer days of new growth and renewal. Celebrating the natural rhythm of life can help us feel more connected to the wisdom of nature, to Mother Earth, and to our ancestors.
At this time of the year, the Ancient Wisdom of these seasonal traditions offers us a chance to experience the rebirth of our own spiritual nature. As nature retreats back to herself in winter, we too can find some quiet restful and reflecting time. Perhaps we can surrender to our own inner light, to the natural transformational power of our inner-being that guides us through the dark times like a beacon to remind us what is important.
The transformation is not always pleasant. In fact, sometimes it can be painful, for the changes involve breaking down, stripping every thought, every belief that no longer serves us, so we can access new possibilities, and discover the being we were meant to be.
Here are a few suggestions;
Love yourself: Identify what is important to you. Keep reminding yourself of it when facing a challenging situation. Develop or commit to a practice that connects you with the sense of “feeling good”, a place of refuge that can sustain you through hard times. Winter is an excellent time to travel within, to nourish yourself, to reflect on qualities of your being that you want to grow into, and a time to birth your dreams.
Deeper Connections:The holidays give many of us an opportunity to reconnect with loved ones, old friends, and community. It can give us the opportunity to deepen the sacred relationship between you and the Earth.
Take the focus off food: Instead of an indoor party with platters of treats, host an outdoor activity. Eat light; choose fruits and vegetables of the season. Eat warm and healthy, local food before you go to parties.
Get plenty of physical activity: When your schedule gets hectic, get creative! Jump rope during TV commercials, dance in the kitchen or take a brisk walk. Yoga, Tai Chi or Qi Gong are also great stress relievers.
Get quality rest: In Oriental Medicine theory during the winter months we should be getting more sleep than the rest of the year. Our bodies are meant to change with the seasons as Winter brings fewer hours of sunlight so we adapt accordingly.
The shared message of Christmas, the Solstice festivals, and Hanukkah, speak of a time to have good friends around, to do acts of kindness, share food and warmth, and tell stories around the fire. It is also a time of the year to prepare ourselves to surrender our inner shadows to the womb of winter, and be renewed by the seeds of Light that burn deep inside of us.
The common spirit of the Holy Days is the spirit of the heart, the love, the light that warms the heart and the soul. This spirit allows us to soften, transform and create new changes in our self, our life and our world.
Whatever tradition you chose to celebrate, may your holidays be filled with Light, Joy and Laughter in this most auspicious transformational journey that we call life.