Sunday, December 23, 2007

solstice celebration

After a few years of wanting to celebrate solstice, we finally decided to try it. We didn't know until the day of how long we'd have the house to ourselves, so we didn't really prepare as much as I'd have liked. I would have loved to light a fire in the yard with a Yule log, but we didn't have a fire pit or wood, and I didn't check if it was a no-burn day, etc. There's a fireplace in the master bedroom here, but it's fake. Sigh. So we skipped the fire.

Instead, we eagerly waited until the house was empty except for us, then I flitted around the main rooms of the house placing unlit candles on nearly every horizontal surface. On the family room coffee table, we placed three candles for the three of us; one yellow candle to represent the sun and substitute for the Yule log; and a big glass bowl filled with water and sprinkled with gold glitter. The glass bowl also had a candle in the center. We had wanted the yellow candle in the bowl, but it wouldn't fit.

I made sure the lights were out, and we let the house get darker as the sun went down. The three of us gathered in front of the coffee table, and as we waited for sunset (I had looked up the exact time on the Internet), we talked about some of the hardships of the year: leaving our home back East, my uncle dying, my health, our trip postponement. We let the darkness of the long night represent sadness, difficulty, etc., and reminded our son that life sucks sometimes, we're sad sometimes, and that's okay. Little FTA named an incident in school this year when his friend said he didn't want to be him friend anymore. We discussed how that made him feel, and how he might go about repairing that friendship.

Just at sunset, we lit the center candle, then lit each of our candles from the "sun" candle. During this we talked about the sun as happiness, hope, and love, and how the sun makes life on earth possible. Still in the dark except for those four candles, we moved about the house lighting the rest of the candles, as well as turning on the Christmas lights. We lit the yellow one in a very safe candle holder and let it burn all night.

Little FTA was excited about getting his own candle to light things, but he's still young, so we supervised. He dropped his candle right on the carpet once, and luckily the carpet snuffed it out. "Whoa!" he said, "I thought it was going to light the carpet on fire!" Later, he dropped the candle and candle holder on the kitchen floor, and it shattered. (Note: Make sure the kids are old enough to handle the candle ceremony.) Other than that, we had a nice time lighting the candles and watching the flickering flames around the house.

By then, we were hungry, and we'd read that pagan celebrations of solstice involved indulging in good food and the pleasures of life, so we picked a nice organic restaurant whose name meant The Sun. After a three-course meal, most of it foods we'd never tried before, and some yummy microbrews, we headed home and re-lit the candles we had extinguished for safety reasons while we were gone.

It was a very nice little family celebration. I think we've got ourselves a tradition.

10 comments:

Mai said...

OMG such fun!

Might I suggest brass or bronze or copper candle holders? Not only safer than glass, but they can last for generations without breaking. Also metal for other objects you may want to use.

One danger to avoid, IMHO, tradition is good, mindless ritual is bad. It's easy to fall into the ritual trap.

I'll stop before I get carried away...

Since I have SAD, the winter solstice is really a time of hope for me. It's gonna get better, Kaur, I can tell myself - truthfully.

Mai said...

OMG such fun!

Might I suggest brass or bronze or copper candle holders? Not only safer than glass, but they can last for generations without breaking. Also metal for other objects you may want to use.

One danger to avoid, IMHO, tradition is good, mindless ritual is bad. It's easy to fall into the ritual trap.

I'll stop before I get carried away...

Since I have SAD, the winter solstice is really a time of hope for me. It's gonna get better, Kaur, I can tell myself - truthfully.

Mai said...

It published twice on my sign-in and then demanded another comment to subscribe to comments! Ah, blogger...

(chandelle) said...

that sounds so wonderful. we didn't do anything interesting for the actual solstice, unfortunately - i have been really sick. but this sounds like a beautiful ritual. i'm forwarding this post to my husband for a good idea. thanks for sharing!

Becca said...

Sounds lovely!

Sideon said...

I believe we may be starting a beer-brewing tradition from here on out :) We bought supplies enough for 5 gallons of a lager, and 5 gallons of a honey pale (which uses 3 POUNDS of honey).

Hugs to you, FTA.

Nomoxian said...

that sounded so sweet, and a nice way to have a harmless but meaningful family get-together celebration without the religious baggage... and even though your son may be young, thankfully there wasn't a fire, and i'm sure it was a positive experience for him to be able to participate.

f said...

mai- lol, you gave me this image of me snapping at my son, "Just light the damn candles! I don't care if you don't like it, just do it! It's tradition!" NEVER!

chandelle- I'm sorry about your sickness. Maybe next year (or summer solstice!) you can find something fun for you and the family.

becca- Thanks!

sideon- Mmm, you're making my mouth water. I think I'll be able to smell all that brewing from here...

nomoxian- He loved the fire part. What kid wouldn't? And he felt very grown-up to be able to light candles himself (with the minor mishaps I mentioned).

Sister Mary Lisa said...

What a beautiful memory you created with your family! I love it.

Mai said...

My family had a tradition that I really must blog about: My 100% Gursikh Dad dressing up in a red suit with white trim and a red and white turban, that's right Santa Claus Singh. It had to be the flowing chest long white beard.

But...Santa with a Punjabi accent?!