Winter Solstice – What the “Christmas Season” Really Asks of You

Rebecca Kehl – December 31, 2015

Mistletoe / holly: "Ancient druids believed mistletoe had magical properties because of the way it grows, never touching the ground and without taking nourishment from the earth... The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe at Christmas comes from the belief that mistletoe has fertility magic." (Photo by Christopher Furlong)
Mistletoe/Holly: “Ancient druids believed mistletoe had magical properties because of the way it grows, never touching the ground… The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe at Christmas comes from the belief that mistletoe has fertility magic.” Photo by Christopher Furlong

I lived in Taiwan about ten years ago for 2 and a half years, so I must have seen at least 2 Christmases then, but somehow I can’t recall them. I don’t remember Christmas cards or gift giving or receiving between students or friends and I, but it was never that big in my family back home either, so I don’t remember missing it. I don’t miss it now either, but I have been getting cards, hearing Christmas songs, and my students have been singing carols. The director at my school and her son even made gingerbread cookies and icing for all the students.

Actually, I was born and raised in a non-denominational Christian home, so you would think that Christmas would be a big time of year, but no… quite the opposite, thank goodness. jesus wasn't born on christmasThat religious group stuck as close to Biblical texts as possible, which for me as a girl meant no cutting my hair, no jewelry, no makeup, and no pants. But in terms of the holidays, since Jesus wasn’t born any time near December, it was concluded that modern-day Christmas wasn’t about Jesus at all, thus it was a worldly thing.  So we did gifts sometimes, but there were no Christmas trees, decorations, cards, or lights on the house. Instead, the biggest part was a family dinner with extended family around a table of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, a ham, applesauce, homemade pumpkin pies and apple pies, big caesar salads, homemade buns with butter, squash, carrots, peas, and shortbread cookies. You will gain 5 pounds.working conditions

In my late teens, I learned another side of Christmas. Not just people rushing to the mall early in the morning to find a parking spot to buy gifts… and going broke, and accumulating debt, having bouts of depression, feeling pressure to go out, and experiencing social
stress… But, in other parts of the world, there may be depression and stress too, to make all these gifts for “first world” demands. A capitalistic agenda to encourage consumption doesn’t sound like fun at all…

Instead, let’s revive what this time of year was all about for so many. It was, and is, the Winter Solstice for those in the northern hemisphere, and the Summer Solstice for those in the southern hemisphere.  This year in Taipei, the solstice happened at 12:50pm on December the 22nd.  In Alberta, Canada, it was on the 21st at around 9:50pm.  It were the astrologers who looked to the stars for signs and clues about life on earth, who would tell us when the solstices and the equinoxes happened, because it was important to crops, and survival. And so, there was a lot of thanksgiving and praise for things more powerful than ourselves.

Solstice is a time of darkness (not evil), a time of yin, of stillness, and contemplating the year that has passed. It’s a time for planting seeds and ideas, wishes and desires for the coming spring, so they may germinate under ground and begin their unobserved growth.  Dreams, like seeds, need to grow roots, and have inner nourishment and attention paid, so they can grow sprouts after the last snows have thawed.  And so now is a time of getting to know what you want for the coming year, and allowing inner growth that will come to be in the new year.

It’s not a time to exhaust yourself by:
~ trying to go everywhere you’re invited when you don’t feel like it
~ making your house look perfect for guests if it’s a drudgery
~ feeling you have to party or do something, otherwise it’ll sound bad to your friends
~ trying to cook and dress to impress as if you feel like it might not be good enough otherwise4 women winter solstice

“We have generally taken our energy away from our inner worlds and poured it into the outer.  But the inner world is where we need to reclaim our lush forests, our mossy knolls, our dreams.  When there is warmth, and moisture, and light, and soft nights again inside, nurtured by care and attention and self-love, we will thrive again, and the world around us will too.    So you have to ask yourself, what is the nourishment my inner world needs in order to grow lush again?  Is it open time, or space, or a book you need to read, or more hot baths or laughter, or crying, or walks in the rain?  Without a plan, without knowing how you would live this out next week or for the whole year, what does your body, your animal self, need or want right now?  Right this second does it want to lie down?  Does it want for you to kick off your shoes, or to feel warm water rushing down your skin?  A deep breath?  Does it want to eat something, or something hot to drink?”
— Jennifer Posada

Here is what you can do to really make use of the solstice:

  1. Congratulate yourself! 🙂  Make a list of all your accomplishments and growth in 2015. Can you feel your sense of pride about yourself growing? You did a great job this year, and so many of the things you put your mind to, you did! Right on!
    Put this list magnifying your awesomeness where you can see it. Feel how great you are everyday for a couple weeks.
  2. Make room:
    – For 3 days, go through your house and find 15 things each day to give away, donate, sell, compost. It could be clothes, old papers, clutter, and especially objects that remind you of experiences and people you don’t want to be reminded of. Take them outside your environment and feel your energy rise.
    – Let go of negative emotions like disappointments or rage, that connect you to people or experiences that you need to let go of. Do a ritual or meditation to clear yourself spiritually and emotionally of them. For example, on a piece of paper, write the experience you had that you want to let go of, and rip the paper up! Maybe burn it! Perhaps flush it down the toilet! hahaha… funny right? Feels better already.
    – Lastly, let go of people who haven’t been treating you the way you would like. Or just being honest with them about their behaviour. They can either shape up, or shape out.
  3. Planting seeds:  What would you like in 2016?  What would you really like to have? What is planted deep in your heart that needs sunlight, warmth, and water? Sit with yourself for a solid hour and ask yourself what you truly want. Write them down, the minute and the profound. Do you you want to visit a place, meet a person, start an activity or art, learn something new, get mentoring, find or apply for or create your dream activity or job, stand up for a cause, buy a home, have a child, create a difference, love someone, plants trees… What do you want?
  4. Take Small Steps Over the Winter: What do you need to nurture your seeds? Any steps to take or paths to walk or things to learn?Both winter and summer solstices are a time for rest and stillness. Gain energy, relax, and enjoy the peace and quiet that is within you and grows around you.
thought seeds
A thought or desire is a seed. Periodically revisit to add water and sunshine. Just allow it to grow, and it becomes a plant. Later, a bush or tree with flowers & fruit to share with all.

Happy Solstice!

Rebecca Kehl

Canadian woman having spent a fair chunk of her young adult life in Formosa! The name of her game: healthy living, animals and trees, and finding ways to de-plasticize our daily lives, chemical-free! Dancer, wellness enthusiast, cappu-lover, true friend, human, woman, soul, stardust... ;)

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