Happy ChristmaHanaKwanzaYuleStice!

There are few, if any, holiday seasons that get the attention of the time between the end of December and the new year. Some are celebrating Yule, others the Winter Solstice. Still others, Kwanza or Hanukkah. And many more are celebrating Christmas. No doubt there are other celebrations that are not so widely publicized. Some are celebrating these as religious observances and others as secular celebrations. It seems ironic that celebrations that should be times of joy turn into times when we focus on what divides us, rather than what brings us together — this occurs in families, towns, and within and between different cultural religious groups.

To me, the end of the year, the passing of the longest night of the year is a really good time to think about new beginnings. And many of the celebrations of this time of year focus on a theme of rebirth. In this post I would like to share a story I wrote as part of a winter solstice / Yule celebration. This story is written from a Celtic, neopagan, neo-druidic point of view, but the themes of rebirth are universal. I hope you enjoy it.

A STORY OF REBIRTH

Some call Christmas Eve the night of nights – For some that night of nights is Yule, others call it Saturnalia. The nights differ – the names differ, but in tradition after tradition the story is the same.

We wait together through a long dark for the rebirth of the light, for the lengthening of the days, for rebirth of hope. Look there – see empty cradle — who is waiting with us for the birth of the light? Is it Rhiannon awaiting the birth of her son Pryderi? Mary preparing to give birth to Jesus? The rebirth of the Holly King? The goddess Freya laboring to bring the Light to birth once more in her son, Baldur?

The locations and traditions vary but stories of miracles and rebirth at the winter solstice are constant chords that are struck in song, in hymn, in poetry and prose. They are chords that resonate with the secret, almost silent song we hear in our hearts. It is our own special song of love, of peace, of joy — and most especially it is our song of hope.

Winter Solstice is the longest night of the year, and for some the dark seems never ending. But on this night, we wait for the coming dawn, for the return of the light. On this longest and darkest, yet somehow brightest and most miraculous night of the year, we all are blessed with hope for the future, for rebirth and renewal. This is not a promise that all things will be rosy and perfect; it is a promise that regardless of what life brings us, we can persevere, we can rise up to be continually blessed — and a be a continual blessing to the world around us.

Symbols of the season are everywhere around us. An empty cradle awaiting the birth, symbolizing rebirth for all. The evergreens symbolize never ending life — in ancient times evergreens were thought to have power over death & destruction — enough power to defeat whatever winter demons roamed the earth, and enough tenacity to urge the coming of the Sun.

Mistletoe is a symbol of fertility and abundance. And the candles date to the Roman “Saturnalia” celebration offering brightness to chase away dark winter demons and urge the sun back into the sky.

And finally, the Yule log, a symbol of the Oak King, adorned with the traditional evergreens of the Holly King signifies the death of darkness and the warmth of the Sun during the newly born solar year. In traditions that utilize a Yule log, it is lit to provide comfort and warmth through the longest night of the year.

And so on this longest night of the year, let us not focus on the dark. Let us focus instead on the light to come, on the hope, and on the blessed miracle of rebirth.

Thank you.

There are some who believe we are headed into dark times in the coming year. There are some who are already experiencing the dark times due to economic issues, other worries and fears, uncertainty, and myriad other concerns. I hope you and all you love and who love you will find a way to focus on the light — to burn a candle of hope in the face of any darkness we may face.

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