Relaxing after the Solstice

christmas-tree3.jpgNow with the holidays over, I can sit back and relax and take in the humorous frenzy of everyone else. My family and I celebrate the Solstice as opposed to Christmas. Our celebration is not that far different from most other people’s Christmas celebration. Santa still comes*, we still have an evergreen tree decked in lights and baubles, we eat way too much food and drink way to many eggnogs, we even mostly call it Christmas, more out of habit than anything else.

Now, our Christmas date was changed due to a sad fact of modern society. Divorced with children. After witnessing one Christmas holiday literally ripped in two for the benefit of a court drawn paper and the needs to two adults, I told my husband (then boyfriend) we needed to make a few changes. As my husband is atheist and I am… (well, I don’t know what I am, but it is not Christian), we decided that we would simply move the date. It was only a number to us. That way we get a holiday that resembles what I remember from my childhood and my stepson never has to feel guilty about which house he spends the holiday at.

As I just mentioned, I am not Christian. The reasons I gave up the faith are many and complex and better left for a different kind of blog. But while I gave up Christianity, because I am a gardener, I could not give up God. One only has to witness the seasonal dance, or the delicate crafting of a flower blossom to know that there must be some greater force directing all of it.

We settled on the date of the Solstice because of my religious beliefs. Solstice is the date of the longest night of the year. It is a promise, in a sense. It signifies that the worst of it is over. That from here on out, the sun will visit for longer and longer periods each day and eventually the flowers and plants will return. This has strong meaning for me as a gardener and it seemed fitting that that promise should be incorporated into my personal celebration schedule.

No matter what your religious background, I hope that you enjoy(ed) your winter holiday as much as I did! Joy and peace to all of you, many high calorie meals and many dreams of gardens for future garden beds.

*Although we do not ascribe to the idea he goes around the world in a single night. We are well aware that he visit children in Spain on January 12th, children in Holland & Eastern Europe on December 6th and is like this for many other dates and places. Our kids just happen to have parents with an in with the big man in the North Pole who pulled some strings to get them moved up on the delivery schedule.

19 thoughts on “Relaxing after the Solstice
  1. We do that as well, celebrate on a diferent day. ANd may I applaud you for what you are doing for your bonusson!
    My parents still gets angry if I choose the other family to celebrate with… It makes me sad every year.. But now it’s my choice.
    Did you get any garden gifts?
    Happy new year!

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  2. Compliments of the season. And all the best for 2008.

    My best Santa explanation this week was “Of course I get round the world in one night. It’s magic. And the magic ONLY WORKS WHEN ALL THE CHILDREN ARE IN BED!”

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  3. I’m like you – I’m not a ‘christian’ anymore but still believe in God. My husband’s even an atheist, lol. Maybe your solstice celebration would be good for us, too. That way, I’d still get the Christmas atmosphere but he wouldn’t have to celebrate a christian holiday.

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  4. I really enjoyed reading about the solistice celebration Hannah. I don’t believe in “man-made” religion either. Too much suffering in the world has, and is, caused in the name of “religion” .. I think being gardeners we feel closer to the earth than most people and a celebration in some what that name, is much more satisfying to me as well.
    Thank you for sharing !
    Joy : )

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  5. This is one of the most touching posts you’ve ever written (at least, that I’ve read, Hannah). We celebrate for three days in a row so that everyone gets visited and has fun…I’m glad you had a wonderful solstice, and here’s to a bloomin’ good New Year, too!

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  6. Great post! Sunnier days ahead is a warming thought. I won’t be dreaming of sugar plums tonight, rather being back in the garden under the sun….

    Have a great 2008! Happy gardening….

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  7. Enjoyed reading your post and share your feelings. I’ll just remain within the church until my children have made up their minds (no need to force my beliefs on them). And as soon as they’ve grown up, I can do totally without Christmas. My husband’s birthday is on the 23rd, so that is when we really celebrate.
    I like your idea of using your connections with the man in red. 😉

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  8. What a treat to read your thoughts on Solstice as a replacement for Christmas. Though I was never a Christian, I used to insist on celebrating it, because I thought it was too good a holiday not to be shared with everyone. But as the years passed, I found the whole thing more and more commercialized and pointless, and have been gradually cutting back on decorations, presents, and so on. This year, for the first time, I finally gave up on Christmas and replaced it with a very small celebration on Solstice. What a relief not to have to think about it at all! I plan to slowly create some Solstice traditions, but I want to make sure that they are noncommercial (nothing that requires buying stuff you wouldn’t buy anyway) and fun, not a burden. One of the best things about Solstice, I think, is that because it’s a natural event that happens everywhere at once (in the southern hemisphere, they’re getting Summer Solstice when we get Winter, and vice versa, of course), it’s a celebration we all share, regardless of where we live or what we believe.

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  9. I have been “worshiping” the solstice for some years. It is not a formal ritual, but more of an awareness. I let others know of the lengthening of the days as they change. My son doesn’t carry much formality, except the dogma from his Baptist Grandmother. I would become a full time pagan if I were religious.

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  10. Thanks to all of you for leaving your thoughts on this!

    It is so nice to hear that others are of the same mind when it comes to religion and the holidays. I suspect that there are quite a few of us among the gardening set.

    Spring, here we come! Only 147 days left till the last frost date (but who’s counting, eh?)

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  11. In the panic before Christmas (I’m a bit of a procrastinator), I forgot to note the longest night of the year. It really *will* be Spring again eventually, won’t it?

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  12. Have just found your Blog for the first time, and will read more in due course – I’m a gardener (and quilter) in Oz, and was following the link from the “What flower are you” site. I had to comment on your Winter Solstice celebrations – what a good idea – it is summer here, but one could do the same thing… I am not a church goer, but still feel uncomfortable with the commercialism of what is supposed to be a religious celebration. I also feel most of the world’s evil is done in the name of religion – does not seem right somehow, and so choose not to be part of any religious belief system. I know one can be a decent human being without religion, so don’t apologise. My family did celebrate Christmas though, and we exchanged a few simple gifts, but it was more about sharing a special time with each other and some friends. One of my children opted out of the gift giving, and sent Newtonmass cards to celebrate the birth of Isaac Newton on 25th December!

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  13. Kristin on

    I wish Ryan and were able to make it for your solstice party this year. I heard everything was decorated beautifully! Maybe our schedules will permit next season. Thanks again for the beautiful necklace. I *love* the art nouveau style! Hope to see you and the fam soon!

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  14. What a good idea to remedy a crappy situation. I have to tell you, a little man in the clouds instructing all the flowers to grow is almost as riduculous as Santa hitting all the houses in one night. Nature, all by itself, is awe inspiring. That said, while I have given up on God, I will not give up a good time, which Christmas has always been for me. And I had a great one!!! Happy Winter Solstice!!!

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  15. Robin – Yes. Yes. Yes. And it cannot come too soon!

    Paddys daughter – Thanks for stopping by! Newtonmas, I had never heard of it, but that sounds like lots of fun. What a neat idea.

    Erikka – It is traditionally the night of the 21st (into the 22nd) but I think due to the whole leap year thing it does shift. For ease, we just do the 21st every year.

    Kristin – I am glad you liked the necklace! You are always welcome and invited to our party. Hope that you will be able to make it in the future if possible.

    Wicked Gardener – I very much appreciate your comments and visiting my blog, but I would appreciate it if you would be more tolerant of other religious beliefs (especially mine, since it is my blog). 😉 I understand that you may not believe as I do… that is the great thing about religion is you can believe (or not) however you like. But I do not appreciate my beliefs (or anyone else’s for that matter) being called ridiculous.

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  16. Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?
    ~ Douglas Adams

    Came across this and thought I would share. Why do flowrtrs need a help to grow? I think they do well enough with supernatural help. Just my position. I don’t feel closer to god in my garden, on a mountaintop, or anywhere else , for that matter. Happy New Year, may it be as good as the last.

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