Winter Solstice is a time of magic, but also marks the first day of winter. Some would curse the shortest day of the year. With seven hours and 27 minutes of daylight, we have now hit bottom.
However, the best is yet to come as the days now get longer incrementally towards the longest at June Solstice when the day will be 17 hours and two minutes long. The fact that this is the upswing has encouraged people to endow this time with stories of miracles. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Yule, to name the obvious ones, are all centred around the Winter Solstice. The Feast of Juul in Scandinavia, Saturnalia in Ancient Rome, Godi in Poland, Chaomos in Pakistan, are all marked by a shared theme of gift-giving, forgiveness, and renewal. This is the time when you shake off the burden of past misdeeds, both those done to you and the misdeeds you did to others.
Winter solstice is a time of reflection when, in the old days, people did not have light after sunset and so were forced to entertain thoughts that they might be too busy to ponder during summer days when the workday was long. It was a tradition to spend some of those dark hours thinking about the state of our souls, reviewing the past year, and planning and hoping for the coming year. These reflections helped us think of what we could do better and made a path for us to set resolutions.
The fact that so many societies have celebrated the Solstice in similar ways tells us that the time could, perhaps, have magical properties. But isn’t the order of solar system better than magic? Maybe we can be given a celestial push towards achieving happiness. As Albert Einstein wrote on a napkin, because he didn’t have change for a tip to a waiter, “A calm and modest life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.”
So, at the times when we feel gloomy about some perceived bad luck, can we try to imagine how to turn it into a triumph? Can we use these long, dark, and cold days to ponder and dream of better times and imagine what those days will look like? I always think that a person can never get anywhere if they cannot first dream of it. In the past on the darkest days, as I cried about dire situations I was facing, I also used that energy to make promises to myself about what I was going to have that would make me happy. It was like programming my brain and I suddenly wanted to work as much as I needed to to achieve my dream. I maintained a clear picture in my mind and eventually my dream became real through my own efforts.
What are you going to dream about this Solstice? What resolutions will you make?
Manon is a resident of Boyle Street and an active volunteer in the community. This column contains her own opinions, and is not affiliated with the Boyle Street Community League.