[i just realised that i didn’t post this when i originally intended to, dec. 21. it languished, accidentally, as a draft! it’s a week late but WHATEVER, i really wanted to share this with you all. so here it is anyway]
the shortest day of the year is one of my favourites. because my mom’s religion is some blend of christianity-light mixed with pagan and new-age traditions, she instilled a love of the solstice in me. now that i am all grown up and an atheist, the winter solstice is a much more meaningful day to me than christmas day or eve (although i usually enjoy the family celebrations that happen on those days). during my marriage, we always opened our presents on the solstice instead of christmas.
as well as reverence for the longest nights of the year, my mom taught me a ritual for the shortest day. today she phoned to remind me as i was doing it. she has great timing!
to me, the shortest day/longest night feels like the real end of the year. starting out a new year with a cleansing, balancing ritual like this is perfect. it’s the right blend of thoughtful, reflecting and dreaming.
for the ritual you need a white candle (a tea light is okay), an orange peel shaped like a heart, paper, and a writing instrument. you can do this at any time during the day, but i prefer to do it around sunset.
first, light the white candle. say a silent thank you for all the things from the past year that deserve your appreciation and gratitude. then make a list of your heart’s desires for the upcoming year (on the paper, not the peel). it can be as many or as few things as you’d like, in any aspect of your life. procrastinating less, more creative energy, being a better friend/daughter, health, travel, etc are all things i’ve marked down on my paper in years past. fold the paper up with the orange-peel heart in the middle and hide it away until the next winter solstice, when you’ll unwrap it, compare your desires with what manifested in your life, and make a new list.
today i couldn’t find my list for 2011 (it’ll turn up eventually!), but i found nearly all of the ones from 2004 onward. it can be really interesting to see which of my hearts’ desires have come true and which still aren’t there yet. i find this ritual really calming and centering in a positive way. reflection on the years behind and ahead of me is a good way to focus on what baggage to leave behind, what wonderful experiences to repeat, and what new things i want to bring into my life.
do you have any year-end or winter holiday rituals you’d like to share?