14, December 2021
Find Stillness In The Solstice
Often, time can pass us by without notice. We’ve all heard ourselves say “where did that day go?” or “that feels like yesterday”. And sometimes, time doesn’t even make sense; minutes can feel like hours, hours can feel like minutes. When time feels all over the place, the arrival of the solstice can be the anchor we need. With roots in the Latin words for ‘sun’ and ‘stand still’, this moment - when the shortest day meets the longest night (or vice versa) - comes as a welcome pause. A chance to be still, to connect with nature, and to celebrate new beginnings.
First, let’s clear-up the sciency side of things. In astronomical terms, the winter solstice - also known as the ‘hibernal’ solstice - marks the beginning of winter. Falling on the 21st of December this year, it’s the day we have the least amount of sunlight hours. At the exact moment of the solstice, the North Pole is at its furthest from the Sun, and the Sun gets to its southernmost part of our sky, all thanks to the tilt of the Earth. As the Latin suggests, the Sun pretty much stands still as it stops moving south and starts its northbound journey all over again. For symmetry fanatics, you’ll be glad to know that the Northern Hemisphere’s winter solstice goes hand in hand with the Southern Hemisphere’s summer solstice. As our days become longer, theirs become shorter.
Unsurprisingly (for a significant celestial event that happens twice a year to the entire planet), ancient cultures and civilisations have been honouring the solstice since… forever! Rituals rooted in mythology and spirituality were a regular date in the diary in Ancient Rome, Scandinavia, the Inca Empire and more. It’s even thought that Stonehenge, which directly faces the winter solstice sunset, could have been a place for December celebrations. Fire, light, life and death are universal symbols used to mark the occasion.
For us, the solstice is a cue to press pause and reconnect with the natural world. It’s a reminder that brighter days will always come back around. And it’s something we can all celebrate without the need for fancy gifts or decoration. You could wake up early to watch the sunrise, do a spot of stargazing after dark, or craft something with natural materials - like a wintery wreath. Maybe you just fancy an extra long soak in the bath. That’s OK too. However you decide to spend your solstice, we hope it’s a happy one.