“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.”~ Og Mandino
Yesterday was the solstice–in the Northern hemisphere, the shortest day of the year, the longest night. I wanted to talk about it yesterday, but I was preoccupied. Many pagans celebrate the Solstice, often in the form of Yule. Depending on one’s path, Yule marks the birth of the new god or the Wild Hunt or the turning of the Wheel.
Celebrations include gathering with family, decking the halls with, yes, boughs of holly, and fir, pine or other greens and reds, for they are the colors associated with Yule, the Yule Log, which has also been co-opted by Christians as part of Christmas festivities, often a vigil awaiting the break of dawn to welcome the returning Light, and of course, feasting and toasting, sometimes with wassail.
Animals the pagans associate with the holiday include deer, including reindeer, goats and boar. In America, the reindeer play a role in modern Christmas celebrations, but in Europe, the goat and boar still share pride of place. One of my favorite traditions retained from my time in Sweden is the julbok, or Christmas goat, a fine fellow made of straw who stands guard under the Christmas tree.
Many modern folk are celebrating the solstice without realizing it, but it’s nice to be aware of the turn of the wheel, the return of the Light, the birth of Hope, and the importance of family and community.
So a bit belated, but happy solstice to all of you! The Light is returning!