The Perfect Day for a Celebration!
Why is the Winter Solstice the perfect day to celebrate? Well for one thing – it’s winter. Therefore it’s dark and chilly. So anything to cheer everything up has got to be a good thing as far as I’m concerned! Adding in those all important solstice elements just makes it a perfect more significant event. The rituals attached to the winter solstice go back over millennia so adding these ancient elements to your winter wedding can only add gravitas to your occasion!
But what’s it all about?
What is the Winter Solstice?
For millions of years the Sun has been a focal point for many cultures, because quite frankly it is the giver of life. We cannot survive without the Sun! Over millions of years there have been many ancient solar deity’s who have been worshiped. The ancient Egyptian god Osiris, Greek god Apollo and the Roman god Sol Invictus are just a few notable Sun gods. All of these were celebrated on the 25th December – long before Jesus even made his first entrance! However, the significance of these celebrated Sun gods is no coincidence.
The winter solstice in the northern hemisphere marks the longest night and shortest day of the year. This year, 2020, it will fall on 21st December.
In astronomical terms, this is caused by the Earths tilt on its axis and its motion in orbit around the sun.
This means the way the Earth is angled, determines the amount of sunlight that shines on different parts of the Earth.
During the winter in the northern hemisphere, Earth is tilted away from the sun therefore receives less sunlight and vice versa for the southern hemisphere.
Early man worked out that the path of the sun changed throughout the year and with it the seasons. They built monuments to track the suns course across the sky. Places like Stonehenge and Machu Picchu are testament to this early exploration.
Ancient Traditions of The Winter Solstice
In years gone by, people would need to prepare to make it through the long winter months. They would carefully manage their crops and livestock, ensuring they had enough to sustain them until the spring when it could all be ‘reborn’ or brought back to life by the Sun.
The word solstice comes from the Latin solstitium, sol meaning Sun and stitium meaning standing or ‘Sun stands still’. Now of course the Sun doesn’t actually stand still. However, as the Sun reaches its’ furthest point at the Tropic of Capricorn, it looks momentarily as if it stands still, then appears to turn around and go back the other way!
This marking of the turning of the Sun is the point at which we acknowledge that winter is upon us. Many months will pass before the Sun is warm and strong enough to sustain us once again. So, winter celebrations at this time were the last ones before the ‘famine months’ of January – April.
The rituals and offerings made at this time are symbolic of the hope for better things to come when the Sun returns.
Winter Ceremonies Around The World!
Yule was originally the Neopagan festival or ‘Feast of Juul’, which was celebrated in Scandinavia. At this ceremony fires were lit and yule logs placed on the fire as a tribute to the Norse God Thor.
The pagan celebration of the longest night would usher in the rebirth of the Sun. This was believed to hold powerful energy for self- reflection, regeneration and renewal. The symbolism of rebirth from the Sun became a time of celebrating the victory of light over darkness and signalled better times ahead.
Whilst in Ancient Rome the festival of Saturnalia lasted for seven days starting on the 17th December. Here people would make sacrifices at the temple before feasting and giving gifts, sound familiar?
In East Asia and China the Dongzhi Festival celebrated the return of longer days and subsequent positive energy restoring the yin and yang. Families would come together to eat and celebrate. Whilst in Iran the ‘night of forty’ or Shab-e Chelleh would see families come together to eat, drink and read poetry late into the night.
So, as you can see, many cultures have marked the winter solstice in one way or another and there seems no reason to stop now!
Ritual Elements for your Winter Solstice Wedding!
There are so many options for elements for your winter wedding but if you want them specifically to reflect the winter solstice then look no further.
Spread a Little Light with a Candle Element!
In recognition of the Scandinavian Yule Feast the festival of light out of darkness, how about lighting some candles? Ancient solstice rituals can be easily incorporated into your solstice wedding. Candle ceremonies are perfect for weddings. The symbolism of candles spreading light into darkness is obvious but being able to relate it back to the ancient rituals of the past offers another level. This element is also a great opportunity to involve a few of your friends and family too!
Come on Baby Light my Fire!
The Winter Solstice was often celebrated with fire. What better way to warm a winter wedding than actually using fire!
Of course you’re going to have to be a bit careful here but using a fire bowl is a great way to incorporate this element in a safe way.
Fire is used as a way to purify things and as a symbol of rebirth. Think phoenix raising from the ashes, the start of new life and new beginnings.
Using fire as an element of your ceremony is a great way to symbolise the beginning of your new life together.
Fire also represents wisdom and knowledge two things you will definitely want tons of in your new union together!
Cleansing Smudge Sticks – Filling The Air With Positivity!
If you want to rid yourself of any negative energy before your big day – you just might want to sit up and take note!
Smudge sticks are made, using dried herbs and plants bound tightly together to create a slow burning stick. You could even arrange to make these from scratch with your bridesmaids before the wedding adding further significance to their use.
Your celebrant can incorporate these as an element into your wedding ceremony dispelling any negative energy. The different herbs used, hold different properties. So, think carefully about the herbs you want in your smudge sticks so you can usher in all that positive energy into your new life!
Self-care is so important especially when you are organising an important event like a wedding. So, this is perhaps one pagan ritual to incorporate and arrange before your ceremony. Take some time out for self-care. Allow yourself the time to renew and revive in order that you can re-emerge after your wedding, ready to be on top of your game for your new life together!
The Winter Solstice is a perfect time for a winter wedding. It’s about honouring light and dark and celebrating who we really are. About welcoming new life. So many elements lend themselves to inviting all good things going forward in your lives together – so what’s not to like!?!
If you have other ideas buzzing around your head that you would like to include in your winter solstice wedding or if you are interested to know what other elements you might use to celebrate your wedding at any time of year, please contact me for a chat…I’d love to hear from you…