The Gift of Light - Winter Solstice
Today is the Winter Solstice. The shortest day, the longest night.
The Winter Solstice is the climax of the growing darkness of the period known as the time of the Midnight Sun.
Many traditions have built celebrations that recognize this moment. The HIndu celebration of Diwali recognizes the defeat of the evil spirit Ravana by King Rama, one of the incarnations of the god Vishnu. Upon his triumphant return home millions of lights were lit to help guide him back. Diwali, the Festival of Lights, if part of a progression of celebrations which signifies the defeat of darkness by the light.
Next is Hanukah, also know as The Festival of Lights. It represents the Jewish rebellion against the Greeks who ruled with an iron fist, and turned the Temple Mount into a Temple to Zeus. After years of guerilla war the Jews drove out the conquerors and retook the Temple. They relit the flame of the Menorah, but only found one small flask of uncontaminated oil with the seal of the High Priest. The oil was only enough to burn for one day, and it would take eight days to produce a new batch of oil. Miraculously the oil burned for eight days, allowing enough time to produce more. The lighting of the Menorah candles, one more each day, symbolizes light triumphing over darkness as we renew and rebirth.
Then we have today, the true celebration of light over dark. The early Christians co-opted the Roman celebration of Solstice to create the Christmas holiday.
But that does not matter as much as the purpose of our celebration today. All traditions have identified that we have journeyed through the time of slowing down, of going inward. At this, the shortest day and longest night of the year was light the lights and celebrate the return to the Light,
Going forward days will be longer. Nights will be shorter. Christmas is the perfect bridge from the Solstice to Kwanzaa to the New Year. Christmas is the pure rebirth of love, of renewal, of salvation within our own soul.
Kwanzaa is a celebration of African American heritage but it borrows the seven candle Menorah from Hanukah. Each candle represents a different principle celebrated in Kwanzaa starting on December 26: Unity; Self-determination; Collective work and Responsibility; Cooperative Economics; Purpose; Creativity; Faith.
Today we celebrate the day the sun stands still, The Winter Solstice. This is the time of the Midnight Sun, our shortest day and longest night. Yet today is a turning point, celebrating the return of the light, the time of creation, rebirth, renewal. Happy Solstice!
(See the Sun rise over Stonehenge: Stonehenge Live Sun Rise)