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Other Holiday Traditions: Solstice
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The winter solstice occurs on December 20 or 21. It’s the time of the fewest hours of daylight and the longest nights. It is the season of the year when time stops (solstice means “sun stands”) and everything seems to hold its breath, waiting for the wheel (yule) to turn again towards light and warmth and spring. We, as creatures of nature, mark this time in harmony with the greater world around us.

We hold a Solstice Observance twice every year on or near the actual solstice dates. The elements are familiar to us: the four candles at the four candles of the altar, symbolizing the four elements of earth, air, fire and water, corresponding to the four seasons of summer, spring, winter, and fall. The candles are lighted, one at a time, starting with east and moving clockwards. The guardian at each candle says appropriate words.

There is also a guided meditation, with the congregants saying “The light is reborn” after each line. Light brings life after the darkness and death of winter.

We often open with music and tambourines, drums, rattles. The Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” is a favorite. At some point we also sing “Deck the Halls” because it has so many of the solstice symbols—yule log, holly, singing, dancing, garlands of evergreens.

Each person lights his/her candle from the person next to him. We say, one at a time, our wishes/hopes for the new year, for a new year of light and life. We affirm the power of light against the power of darkness.

There are closing words to end the ceremony. Go in peace, go in love, go in passion. Salaam, Allelujah, Blessed Be.

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