“Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is a time for home.” – Edith Sitwell
The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year (generally occurring three weeks after the beginning of winter), when some parts of the world slip into darkness and it is everyone’s aim to be warm and cosy around a fire. In the Southern Hemisphere, winter solstice is on 21st June.
The solstice has been observed for many thousands of years, as long as people have marked time by the skies, and it’s a wonderful time of year to retreat inwards and reflect on the wonders of nature.
Many traditional cultures used winter as a time to slow down and reconnect with the natural world. It’s a great time to gather friends together for a hearty, warming meal to recognise and feel part of this ancient tradition.
For as long as the storybooks have been recording, the winter solstice has been seen as a significant time of the year in so many cultures and it is celebrated all over the world with festivals and rituals for thousands of years. The solstice marks the symbolic death and rebirth of the sun and is the lengthening of the nights and the shortening of the days. It is said to hold a powerful energy for self-reflection, regeneration and renewal. It is the bonfire that burns to mark the beginning of winter.
Winter is a time for sleep. Animals go into hibernation and the earth keeps the seedlings warm and safe. It is also a time when we begin to feel homey and quiet, wishing to curl up in tiny blanket-covered balls and fall asleep like baby possums. Winter is nature’s way of asking us to slow down, to enjoy that warmth and comfort of our homes and to rest. It’s a time to spend hours in your kitchen cooking good, warm meals that will not only warm your body, but your soul as well. Take up a handcraft like knitting or sewing, something to keep your hands busy when the weather will not allow you to go outside.
Since the days are getting shorter and the nights longer, the winter solstice is about finding light within yourself. It is about finding time to do things you normally wouldn’t have time for. It might be the visions you have for the future, or a project you now could aim to have done by Spring. Take some time to sit with your thoughts and your imagination. Time outside may be hard to come by, but you can spend all the extra time working on your better self for the long-awaited days of Spring.
In the Northern Hemisphere, everything goes to sleep yet in the Southern Hemisphere, and in particular Australia, our trees and plant-life are quenching their thirst and finding relief from feeling parched after a long, dry spell. The undergrowth catches the rain and comes to life and one of the sheer joys of all this rehydration is that the birds come alive and sing and dance in the bushes and trees.
Winter is about rain and thunder and days of scurrying for shelter whenever we step outside. The winter solstice is the symbol that the cold days have well and truly begun. It is a time for the warmest coat in your wardrobe, for warm coffee and bed socks. But on those days when the rain eases, grab your umbrella or raincoat, take a walk in the bush and observe the life that exists and give thanks to the winter solstice and the rain it brings.