Why I celebrate Winter Solstice:
Ok, so maybe 'celebrate' is a loose term...maybe consciously recognize is better...
I decided when I was pregnant that Solstice was going to be our celebration day because Christmas Eve, Christmas day and Boxing day we're already covered by other parts of the family. In my head, we'd be living in our own house, have our own celebration and presents then, and then celebrate with the rest of the family later.
Since that 'living in my own house' thing hasn't worked out, we just do presents on Christmas day with everyone here and a big dinner that night, but I still like to recognize the Solstice.
Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year, meaning that every day after that until Summertime just gets longer and sunnier.
Winter Solstice has long been thought of as the time of the last time for Autumn feasting before the cold days of hunger ahead. It was the time when the livestock was slaughtered so they didn't have to be kept fed in the winter, and therefore it was the only time of year when fresh meat was available. Wine and mead that had been fermenting from the summer and autumn harvests was now ready to drink. Firewood was cut and stored to keep everyone warm against the winter winds.
What better time for a party?
For me, Winter Solstice is about thanking the Earth for a good growing year and enjoying what she has to offer. It's about the celebration of daylight as the Earth begins it's new year around the Sun. It's about family, food, warmth and love.
And this particular Solstice marks the end of the Mayan calendar, which obviously didn't end in the apocalypse, but does mark the end of an era. The 'old ways' are behind us and new and better things are hopefully on the horizon.
Happy Solstice, Merry Yule.