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Solstice Celebrations

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Holidays and Special Events > Solstice Celebrations



Celebrating the winter solstice

October 2006

Now that the holidays are (almost) here, I find myself, yet again, resenting the forced Christmas cheer and pressure in general. I'd like to celebrate the season; specifically by starting with the Winter Solstice. I'm not a very spiritual person, but I'd like to bring some meaning and ritual into my life, and I think that I'd like to do this by using the solstices and equinoxes as the anchor. Does anyone out there celebrate in this manner? Can you recommend any books or pass on any ideas to make these days more special than the other days of the year? I have a 2 1/2 year old son that I would like to include in these celebrations, too.
Thanks for your time.


You can make any holiday, celebration or transition more meaningful by knowing and applying basics principles of ceremony design to personalize the occasion. I've co-authored a book called, ''The Art of Ritual'' with Renee Beck that gives specifics about designing and performing ceremonies for support or celebration. There is another, great book that is Wicca- oriented and will give specific rituals for equinoxes and solstices. It's called, ''The Spiral Dance.'' Sydney
Given the interests of fellow Bay Area residents, I think it will not be difficult to locate communal equinox and solistice celebrations; I recently attended an autumnal equinox celebration at Cesar Chavez Park. You can check local papers or Google equinox/solistice and find such gatherings.

Another option that might be interesting if you are not too allergic to organized religion would be to help your kids see the ways in which religious traditions from around the world celebrate the movement of the earth, the moon, and the planets, using the symbolism of their faith traditions to glorify the cycles of life. The pagan rituals of northern Europe became the Christian rituals of Christmas and Easter, and some of the ceremonies attached to the holidays can be ''unveiled'' as solistice and equinox celebrations. For instance, Sweden celebrates the winter solistice with St. Lucia, the festival of lights. It might be fun to attend a Lucia celebration and then discuss with your kids how the solar holiday takes some of its symbolism from Christianity, but much of it is ''pagan.'' The Scandinavians also of course celebrate the summer solistice, with a holiday that doesn't try very much to integrate Christian ideas (though it's called St. Hans in Norway). Moon holidays such as Jewish Sukkot and Ramadan and Asian New Years are also moments to see how human beings respond to the cycles of the year with acts of faith and celebration. I am sure that this must be true of all world traditions.

A book my son enjoyed very much is called Celebration. It looks at holidays around the world and explains the pagan roots of many Christian holidays.

Good luck in your celebrations! saint lucy's acolyte


Given the interests of fellow Bay Area residents, I think it will not be difficult to locate communal equinox and solistice celebrations; I recently attended an autumnal equinox celebration at Cesar Chavez Park. You can check local papers or Google equinox/solistice and find such gatherings.

Another option that might be interesting if you are not too allergic to organized religion would be to help your kids see the ways in which religious traditions from around the world celebrate the movement of the earth, the moon, and the planets, using the symbolism of their faith traditions to glorify the cycles of life. The pagan rituals of northern Europe became the Christian rituals of Christmas and Easter, and some of the ceremonies attached to the holidays can be ''unveiled'' as solistice and equinox celebrations. For instance, Sweden celebrates the winter solistice with St. Lucia, the festival of lights. It might be fun to attend a Lucia celebration and then discuss with your kids how the solar holiday takes some of its symbolism from Christianity, but much of it is ''pagan.'' The Scandinavians also of course celebrate the summer solistice, with a holiday that doesn't try very much to integrate Christian ideas (though it's called St. Hans in Norway). Moon holidays such as Jewish Sukkot and Ramadan and Asian New Years are also moments to see how human beings respond to the cycles of the year with acts of faith and celebration. I am sure that this must be true of all world traditions.

A book my son enjoyed very much is called Celebration. It looks at holidays around the world and explains the pagan roots of many Christian holidays.

Good luck in your celebrations! saint lucy's acolyte


We celebrate the Solstices (especially the winter Solstice). I found these 4 books by Ellen Jackson at the library: Winter Solstice, Summer Solstice, Autumn Equinox and Spring Equinox. I found them helpful. There are recipes, stories, crafts, and scientific information about the sun and its relationship to the earth. My kids are 6 and 8 and the books are appropriate for them. I have also found a lot of information on the internet, of course.

We started having a Winter Solstice party a few years ago. Originally I wanted to have a christmas holiday party, but I wanted to be all-inclusive (I have Jewish, Christian and athiest friends) so I thought a pagan celebration would be better :) It turned out that I found out a lot about the solstice and its relationship to our cultural holiday traditions. We look forward to our Solstice party every year.

Things we do for our party: Red wine, beef, yule log cake, candle making, mulled wine, solstice tree, holiday music. Lots of food! Red and green are big solstice colors so the house is fairly decorated with those colors.

I think you'll find that celebrating Winter Solstice is not all that different than celebrating a traditonal non-religious American Christmas. After all, early Christians co-opted a lot of the symbolism used in European pagan solstice celebrations.

Good luck and have fun discovering! Laurel


Last year I went to the shop Sagrata on Telegraph at 51st and they had a Christmas display table, a Hannuka display table and a Winter Solstice display table. This is a wonderful store for all things spritual. Go there and see if you get inspired on how to celebrate the season for yourself. patricia
I've got two great books to recommend: CELEBRATING THE GREAT MOTHER: A Handbook of Earth-Honoring Activities for Parents and Children by Cait Johnson and Maura D. Shaw, and CIRCLE ROUND: Raising Children in Goddess Traditions by Starhawk, Diane Baker and Anne Hill. You also may want to check out the First Unitarian Church of Oakland (or probably any other Unitarian church near you. FUCO's my church, so I know better what goes on there.) There's always a solstice celebration there that's intergenerational (no separate Sunday School for the kids that day. They're in the service with the adults.) It's always fun and interactive. The kids can take part as much or as little as they want. It's on December 17th at 9:15 and 11:15. Good luck. Kate

Where to view winter solstice sunrise

December 2001

We'd like to start celebrating the Solstice with our young son, and one of the activities we'd like to do is see the sunrise on Solstice morning. I've thought of a few places like Inspiration Point, but I am not sure of what location at the point. At the parking lot? Down the black topped path to a clearing? Also Mount Diablo, which I think is a little too far for us this year. I'd like to know of any other special places that people know of and would share with us. If you don't want to broadcast some special locations online, but wouldn't mind sharing some of them with me, I'd appreciate it very much. Thanks, and Happy Holidays. Mariannef


WINTER SOLSTICE (Yule) 2001
Solstice is December 21 @ 11:22 am PST
Sunrise 7:21 am    Moonrise 12:04 pm PST
Sunset 4:54 pm     Moonset 11:31 pm PST

Sing Up the Sun
Date: Friday, December 21
Time: 6:45-7:30 a.m.
Location: East Bay Hills, outdoors, exact place to be announced
Bring: Drums, Hot Drinks (tea, chocolate, coffee, etc.)

Yule Ritual
Date: Friday, December 21
Doors open at 6:15 pm
Ritual begins promptly at 7:00 pm sharp
Ritual will be over by 8-8:15 pm, followed by socializing and refreshments.
Location: Fellowship of Unitarian-Universalists Hall, 1924 Cedar (at
Bonita),
Berkeley. (Wheelchair accessible.)

Our public ritual will be on Friday evening (see below). On Solstice eve
(Thursday, December 20) we hope that everyone will gather with their own
families, friends, circles, covens, and communities to keep the Yule log
burning all night in vigil, awaiting the rebirth of the sun.

Sing Up the Sun
On Solstice morning (Friday, December 21) we invite all to join us to sing
up the sun.  We will gather outdoors in the East Bay Hills between 6:45 and
7:00 a.m. with our drums and flasks of hot tea (chocolate, coffee . . .), to
raise our voices in greeting and celebration of the newborn sun.

Yule Ritual
On Solstice evening (Friday, December 21) we will come together in community
for a Yule Ritual to renew our hope at this difficult, frightening time as
we celebrate the Sun's rebirth, taking strength and inspiration from the
return of the light and from the Earth's power of regeneration.  Children
are welcome and will be included as participants in the entire ritual. If
you wish, bring finger food, treats and/or non-alcoholic drink to share
after the ritual. If possible, please bring your own re-usable drinking cup,
to reduce trash.
Kara

If you would like to help with this ritual, please contact us,
RiteHere at yahoogroups.com

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