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D ecember 2019
T he T raditions of S olstice Br inging Light , Li fe, and Chr istmas Trees Into Our Home
Winter is the season when things become rather unpleasant. It’s cold, driving in the snow or on ice is always a problem, and the trees lose their wonderful foliage. However, with the holidays right around the corner, winter is anything but bleak. Every year, my family comes together to celebrate not only Christmas but also the winter solstice. I’ve been involved with solstice celebration from the time I was a child. Growing up, my family always celebrated both the holidays together, and that’s a tradition I have kept in adulthood. The solstice celebration is every bit a part of our holiday experience as Christmas, and I can’t imagine one without the other. I’ve always found the history of solstice very interesting. Many of the Christmas traditions people celebrate in today’s modern age come from ancient, tribal traditions, and most people aren’t aware of that. In fact, in modern times, there is very little difference between solstice and Christmas traditions. The solstice stands for the idea of regeneration, rebirth, and the expectation of the new year, while Christmas represents the birth of Jesus, the embodiment of regeneration and rebirth, and the expectation of eternal life. Many of the Christmas traditions that people celebrate across the world, such as putting up a Christmas tree, can be traced back to pagan roots. I believe that if you were to walk into a home that was celebrating Christmas and then another that was strictly celebrating the solstice, the two would look very similar. My home around this time of year always has a big Christmas tree,
candles, warm smells of candy and bread baking in the kitchen, and the kids eagerly anticipating the arrival of Santa. We’re all comfortable with the two holidays and have always looked forward to celebrating them this time of year. Solstice is important to me, as it honors the passing of the seasons and the coming of the light. In ancient times, the solstice was celebrated as the returning of the sun, which, until Dec. 21, spent less and less time in the sky. As the days become longer and brighter, the solstice is a time to celebrate the change by welcoming greenery inside the home. This tradition has been around for hundreds of years, and one of the most common ways to celebrate it is through the Christmas tree. By bringing the live tree inside the home, it represents the idea that winter will fade into spring, bringing warmth and life.
Decorating the Christmas tree has always been one of my favorite traditions. My family would personally execute the entire process of getting the tree, heading out on Thanksgiving weekend to pick the perfect one. Once we had the tree set up in our living room, we would decorate it with our favorite ornaments through our collective effort. The tree, once it’s adorned with lights, ornaments, and garlands, always makes the holiday feel complete. I wish you happy holidays, and no matter what you choose to celebrate this year, I hope it fills you with joy and happiness. –Michael Manely
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