“The deepest gifts of this season, I think, are the twin companions of Solitude and Community.” - Joanna Colbert from the Gaian Tarot blog.
I loved this line and thought I’d share it with readers. For me, who is in the process of creating her own personal tradition, the solstices have always been meaningful days to me. They are not traditional in any way we can tell to the insular Celts*, but seem to have been important to the people’s on the islands before the Celts arrived – with evidence stemming from many lasting stone age monuments that have features which correspond to the solstices (and some correspond to the equinoxes as well?).
That being said I do not try to apply any “traditional” meaning to them. Instead, I read and contemplate what these days mean to me. Generally, I stay away from any Wiccan theology about the dying or reborn God as I am not Wiccan and do not like much of its theology. Instead I like to celebrate my solstices as peaks of their season. So, as the quote above alludes to, the Winter Solstice seems to be about sleep, hibernation, solitude but also about human-made light and warmth (including the warmth of social connections) to stave off the cold and the specter of death.
This, of course, conveniently lets me celebrate in much the same way Christians celebrate Christmas – with lights (and maybe a tree), candles, songs, parties, presents and the like. I may have different reasons for the trappings, but the trappings can remain the same. I would have a Yule log, as we did growing up, if I had a fireplace. As it is I dress my apartment in candles, lights, and hang holiday cards as reminders of all types of warmth. I also decorate with visual reminders of the cold and winter usually snowflake garlands and faux icicles. Also, I have a tree. The tree is the only non-solstice-y item there – that’s just because I grew up with one, love the smell, and love decorating it.
*Expect for the traditions of celebrating and honoring Manannan Mac Lir on the island of Man during the summer solstice.