The symbolism of the winter solstice ceremony is deeper and older than that of the summer solstice and can be found in many cultures and religious traditions in various forms. It is where the dying sun/God is reborn at the point of greatest darkness and the main reason why Christmas was given its December date as the symbolic birth of Christ (in the northern hemisphere winter). This rebirth of the seed of light in the dark womb of midwinter was also the main preoccupation of pre-2000BCE man as the seasonal calendar was fundamental to survival and is captured by many ancient stone orientations that frame the winter sun’s rebirth and sunrise.
Solstice means “standstill” and can be witnessed as a point where a cycle of new life begins. The summer solstice is the point at which the longest day of light marks the beginning of the sun’s journey of becoming less as the days shorten and nights lengthen once more as the Wheel of the Year turns and the seasons change. Human life echoes the same wheel of seasons with birth, maiden, crone and death. We also see this daily in the sunrise and sunset, with midday and midnight providing the points of standstill. It is even echoed in our breath as each in-breath reaches a ‘solstice’ before it becomes an out-breath. Our lives are in a constant inhale, stillness, exhale, solstice, rebirth cycle which we overlook as we go about our busy-ness.
There is much peace in the acknowledgement of the solstice symbolism that surrounds us and which constantly reminds us that even at any darkest point, there is always the hope and the spark of new light.