Ordinarily we’d be writing here about how the weather’s getting colder, but this has been a strange early winter here in Missouri. Shorts and sandals in December? Yowsa.
Surprise warm weeks and dim prospects of a white solstice aside, the long nights are here. The Sun’s been rising further and further to the South. Balmy nights aside, it’s beginning to look a lot like Solstice!
Many cultures, historic and modern, have celebrated festivals at midwinter. Many modern paganisms (and much of Christendom as well!) owe the Germanic peoples for many Yuletide traditions, including caroling, feasting, and the ever-popular holiday ham. Likewise, the Romans celebrated Saturnalia by decorating with evergreen garlands, gilded ornaments, gift-giving, and parties.
We see traditions, too, about the battle between light and dark. Thanks to writers like Robert Graves, Wicca and English folk tradition share the story of the Oak and Holly kings, whose powers wax and wane with the seasons. The ancient Slavs celebrated Karachun, in which the old sun is defeated by the forces of darkness, then later reborn as Koleda, the new sun. There are echoes of this cycle of death and rebirth in popular New Years symbols; the old man representing the ending year, and a young boy as the new.
While many of us will likely be spending time with families this time of year, there are opportunities here in Mid-Missouri to join in public ritual as well. Oak Spirits Sanctuary (formerly Ozark Avalon) will be having a public Yule ritual on Saturday, December 15th. Those looking for a celebration within the city limits can join White Hawthorn Protogrove (ADF) for their Winter Solstice rite and potluck on Thursday, December 20.
(And, as always, Hearthfires will be meeting on Wednesday nights at Panera Bread in downtown Columbia to offer a space to chat about plans, and maybe decompress after family gatherings!)