Edge of the Lake Magazine December 2021 | January 2022

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Winter Solstice STORY LIZ GENEST SMITH

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ave you ever noticed that most major religions celebrate significant holidays in December? There’s a good reason for this – winter solstice. Thousands of years ago, humans figured out how to pinpoint the longest and shortest days of the year, when the Earth’s poles tilt closest to (summer) and furthest from (winter) the sun. In the weeks leading up to these annual events, the sun appears to move very little, so the Latin words for sun and to stand still were combined to form the term solstice. Winter solstice marks the longest night and shortest day of the year. Ancient civilizations recognized this as an indicator that longer days were coming, and thought of it as the rebirth of the sun, with both spiritual and agricultural implications. Stone monuments erected in multiple locations around the world – including the most famous

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EDGE December 2021 | January 2022

one, Stonehenge in England – chart the astronomical event. And their pagan festivals and rituals, which were eventually absorbed and adapted by countless cultures and religions, typically involved feasting, gathering with loved ones, and lighting candles and bonfires. We can expect winter solstice to occur in our region this year on Tuesday, December 21 at 9:59 a.m., and no matter your religious or spiritual beliefs, winter solstice can simply be a time to connect to the natural world and commemorate the change in seasons. Here are some rituals you can make your own, with the intention of releasing any of last year’s troubles or negativity, and welcoming new prosperity and positivity. Watch the sun rise or set. It put the sol in solstice, so it makes sense that we should honor that celestial ball of fire as it arrives or departs, and (weather permitting) paints the sky


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