Holiday Guest Post by Pitch Wars Mentor Julie Sondra Decker!
Dec21

Holiday Guest Post by Pitch Wars Mentor Julie Sondra Decker!

HAPPY SOLSTICE! Today is the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere! Winter solstice on this side of the Earth means the longest night and the shortest day. It means every day from now until the summer solstice will be slightly longer than the one before it. It means the start of the waxing year. But for some, winter solstice is more than an astronomical event. It’s a holiday that some practitioners of nature faiths consider spiritual or religious. For many folks of Pagan persuasions, today is THE big winter holiday. And many Christmas holiday traditions have their roots in our Yuletide celebrations. OUR CELEBRATIONS Yule logs, decorated trees, and caroling (as well as many of the carols themselves!) come from ancient practices celebrating new life brought into a frozen world. Many polytheistic and Pagan beliefs of old feature a god who was reborn on the winter solstice, and his mother the goddess (symbolic of Earth) would celebrate his arrival. Gifts were exchanged, candles lit, bells rung, carols sung. And some modern Pagans celebrate in similar ways today. Some modern Pagans celebrate with group or solitary rituals. The purpose of the rituals is to greet the newborn king—sound familiar?—and honor the cycle of nature. Most Pagan folks believe in some form of reincarnation, and that is reflected in the cyclical deity who is born in winter, is married as a king in summer, and dies/is “harvested” in the fall. Because of the mother goddess’s major role in most Pagan spirituality, this holiday honors the female deity as much as the male, and so some rituals will incorporate some sort of tribute to a general or specific goddess, such as lighting three candles to symbolize her three aspects (Maiden, Mother, Crone: white, red, and black candles). Some like to read spiritually significant poetry, make wishes for a new year, or make a toast. And some group rituals will involve bonfires, dancing, singing, drumming, and group invocations. Decorations and celebrations vary widely, but the symbols and practices tend to contain certain common threads. OUR DECORATIONS Many Pagan people like to have a Yule tree and/or a decorated Yule log, and happily this is one of the three holidays of the year for which mainstream stores carry decorations we can use (the others being Easter/spring equinox and Halloween/Samhain). Traditional Yule logs are decorated with ribbons and sometimes burned, though some folks prefer to put candles on it and “burn” the log symbolically.   Yule trees will be more or less indistinguishable from Christmas trees, but many Pagan people prefer to decorate theirs with nature-related symbols or—if they have them—specific symbols of whatever tradition...

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