Celebrating the Winter Solstice at Givens Gerber Park

Happy Winter Solstice! The word “solstice” is derived from Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still). It is the shortest day of the year and a time for us to rest and recoup. The sun is quite literally exclaiming to us: “I’m retreating to come back brighter; you should too!”

We are in the thick of holiday season, which can often cause more stress than hope. Grief, expenses, diet, and travel are among the contributing factors that can lead us to feeling more anxious and depleted than grateful and present. Some of us may feel like winter has already greeted us, but December 21st, otherwise known as the “Winter Solstice,” is the marking of the 1st day of winter. From here on out, days will get longer, but with intention, we can honor this day and the change of season.

Celebration of the solstice include symbols of fire and light, along with life and death, as the sun rebirths. So, what we can let go of, look forward to, or remind ourselves of as we experience the solstice?

Try setting up a meditation space, or at least give yourself 5-10 minutes to meditate. It could be as simple as breathing or meditating on a thought or feeling. You could celebrate in the community by inviting people to share their thoughts or intentions for the winter season. You could also give back or enjoy time in nature. What a gift living in Western North Carolina is- surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains and an abundance of wildlife, we get all four seasons. Maybe it is a walk around our community, or you take a walk along a greenway in town or drive up to the parkway. Another convenient way to enjoy nature is to open your window and listen. If the holidays evoke feelings of grief and sadness, then take this opportunity to reflect on that. The change of seasons is nature’s way of reminding us that death is a part of the beautiful thing called life. We can’t have spring without winter.

The Winter Solstice has long been a time for celebration and ritual in cultures around the world. Let the long night and the welcome of winter remind us of the importance of rest and rejuvenation. Many animals hibernate while we get busier- maybe it’s traveling, baking, shopping, or socializing, to some it may be the most wonderful time of the year, but to most it’s the busiest time of the year. There are brighter, and longer days ahead, but don’t overlook winter and what it can offer.