Today is the shortest day of the year! (Go outside tonight and check out how close Saturn and Jupiter are; They will be close enough to look like one big planet in the southwestern part of the sky) Tomorrow, the sun will stay a little longer in the sky each day and it will be summer before we know it. Winter Solstice has been celebrated to welcome the return of the sun for a long long time; People may have observed the winter solstice as early as the Neolithic period—the last part of the Stone Age, beginning about 10,200 BC!1 Cultures from all over the world, and throughout history celebrate on the shortest day of the year.
The ancient Romans called their party Saturnalia, and they held long fancy feasts and parties for a week to celebrate the return of their sun god, Saturn.2
The ancient Norsemen of Scandinavia celebrated Yule from the winter solstice through January by bringing home a Yule log, lighting one end of it on fire, and holding a party for as long as the log burned to welcome the sun’s return.1
The Hopi celebrate December as when the Kachinas come down from their home in the San Francisco Peaks to bring the sun back to the world.3 The Kachinas, spirits that guard over the Hopi, dance at the winter solstice Soyal Ceremony, understood to mean “Establishing Life Anew for All the World.”3 At Soyal time, elders pass down stories to children, teaching pivotal lessons like respecting others.3 An all-night ceremony then begins, including kindling fires, dancing and sometimes gift-giving.1 Traditionally, the Hopi sun-watcher was not only important to the winter solstice tradition, and the rest of the year as their observation of the sun also governed the planting of crops and the observance of Hopi ceremonies and rituals.1
So how can we celebrate the Winter Solstice?
We can be mindful of our feasting, and eat when we are hungry, instead of eating snacks out of boredom. Captain Create’s friend Candi has some tips4:
- Ponder: Check in with yourself about your hunger before you eat – you may actually be thirsty, bored or stressed.
- Appraise: Take a moment to take it in. How does it smell? Do you really want it? Is it more than you need?
- Slow: Slow down so your brain can keep up with your stomach. Put your fork down between bites and focus on the flavor.
- Savor: Enjoy your food. Take a moment to savor the satisfaction of each bite – the taste, texture, everything!
- Stop: Stop when you’re full – there’s no need to join the clean plate club if it means overeating.
If you really love having snacks out, make veggies your first choice! Wreaths are a traditional symbol from Yule from the Norsemen, and we’ve got lots of yummy dip recipes here. Make a green wreath from all the yummy green veggies you’ve got, then decorate with other colors. Carrots make great stars, and tomatoes can be red berries, or even Christmas lights.
We can give back to nature, since the winter solstice is a naturally OCCURRING event:
We decided to feed the birds, so they could keep singing for us in the longer days ahead. Peanut butter and birdseed work well, and birds will eat oatmeal stuck to peanut butter too.
- History.com Editors. Winter Solstice. History.com. https://www.history.com/topics/natural-disasters-and-environment/winter-solstice. Published September 21, 2017. Accessed December 21, 2020.
- Saturnalia. Encyclopædia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/Saturnalia-Roman-festival. Accessed December 21, 2020.
- Hopi Winter Solstice Tradition: Kachinas Dance at the Soyal: WilderUtopia. WilderUtopia.com. https://www.wilderutopia.com/traditions/soyal-ceremony-hopi-kachinas-dance-at-winter-solstice/. Published April 10, 2018. Accessed December 21, 2020.
- Create Better Health. Take Ten Before Taking Seconds // Thanksgiving Leftover Casserole. Create Better Health. https://createbetterhealth.org/2020/12/02/take-ten-before-taking-seconds-thanksgiving-leftover-casserole/. Published December 3, 2020. Accessed December 21, 2020.