should point out though, that the idea of Christmas has waxed and waned
throughout history, and the current “goodwill to all men” version only
really surfaced about 170 years ago. In our house we tend to celebrate
as if it were Christmas without the nativity and a few days early! We
have a ham as that is a very ancient tradition, and I have been down to
visit Stonehenge for the sunrise and sunset. The argument for this
being the main alignment is that there is an avenue that leads from the
river Avon up to Stonehenge. If you stand on this avenue at sunset on
the solstice, the sun sets in the middle of the stones. (This feels
more natural than being inside the stones at summer solstice and
looking back along the avenue to the sunrise.)
In terms of
colours and decorations, we go for dark greens, reds, golds – in short
anything bright that is likely to lift the spirits. I try to get out
and collect greenery – particularly holly and ivy. I've already
discussed the significance of Holly, and Ivy can be taken to represent
the Goddess. Also, fir, whether in boughs or as a Christmas tree, is
important because it stays green across the winter. All these plants
are seen as holding life in trust while all around is sleeping.
hardest thing I find in celebrating the Winter Solstice in the modern
world is that I see it as one of eight equally important seasonal
festivals. In my mind it should rank the same as Lammas and
Imbolc. But in the modern world it has become a huge, commercial
monster, dominating media and consumer culture from October onwards.
So, in our house, despite the fact we have children, we try to rein
things in a bit, while still celebrating and feeling the joy that the
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