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Happy Winter Solstice

And Happy Yule! This ancient Pagan holiday celebrates the winter solstice (December 21-22) in the Northern Hemisphere. It's challenging to trace back Yule's specific origins. Still, it's thought to have roots in ancient Germanic or Scandinavian culture, but over time, certain aspects were adopted into the Christian holiday of Christmas. The word yule comes from "Jul" or "jol," which is Old Norse, referring to Jolfadr or Yul-father, a god associated with the sun. Yule has been translated to mean "a feast to the sun," and "tide" translates to a period of time. Yuletide celebrations historically began on the winter solstice and extended twelve days afterward to welcome in the longer days of sunlight. Scholars agree that Yuletide festivals incorporated light, fire, and feasting themes to bring brightness and warmth during the darkest, coldest days of the year. Things like candles and the Yule log would be lit to symbolize the sun and the lengthening period of sunlight soon to come. Evergreen trees would be decorated, and branches turned into wreaths to remind us of the greenery in nature and life that persists despite the hardships of winters.

Yuletide aside, during this time, nature reminds us to turn inward and rest, conserving energy and reducing our consumption. However, in today's holiday seasons, with all the marketing and advertising to shop till you drop and buy buy buy, it's difficult to comprehend the exhausting impact this mass consumerism has on the earth and ourselves. With this in mind, perhaps you can find new ways to adopt the ancient earthly festival of Yule into your holiday by consuming less and incorporating more grounded, calmer, earth-centered ways to enjoy the changing seasons with loved ones.

To welcome the winter solstice, try thinking of or writing out the aspects of winter you most enjoy. Ask yourself what feelings you have towards winter.

How do you feel about the cold, shorter days?

What do you think about snow?

Are there parts of the season you like or dislike?

Can you find enough pros and cons to balance each other out?

Can you take it a step further to find gratitude for winter's challenges and rewards?

What lessons can you extract from this time?

Are there any traditions or rituals you would like to start doing to welcome in winter?

Have you carried any traditions or habits over the past holiday seasons that don't feel aligned and that you would like to let go of?

Allow yourself to listen to your instincts and make changes to live in tune with your environment. The earth changes for no one but itself. Nature knows nothing but to listen to its instincts.

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