On Winter Solstice

Posted by on Dec 20, 2013 in Mindfulness, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

garden in winter
The celestial tipping point that is winter solstice happens on Saturday, December 21st at exactly 10:11 AM Mountain Time. (See other time zones below.) As our home planet journeys around the sun, it tilts on its axis so that those of us living north of the equator are leaning away from the sun. It has been tilting in that direction since June 21st, making the daylight hours shorter and shorter. And now we finally approach the moment when it begins to lean back toward the sun.

Winter Solstice often slips by unnoticed in our era of artificial lighting, and yet our festivals involving light and candles are rooted in our ancestors’ awareness of this time. Without electricity they would have been keenly aware of the shortening days. The return of the sun was a time of celebration (and probably relief.)

At winter solstice, like most tipping points, there is a seeming magic here if we are paying attention. Things appear to be going in one direction (darker and darker) and then in a moment they are not. The rhythm of summer and winter and the tipping point where darkness morphs into light provide a wealth of images for poets and lyricists. It gives us an opportunity to think about the dark times and the tipping points in our own lives. We can use this period for reflection and insight.

However, I think there is something more basic to contemplate at winter solstice. We are on a rock in infinite space that makes a journey around a large ball of burning gas, and as it does so it spins and tilts. On December 21st it reaches the far end of its tilt and begins to lean back toward the sun. Our lives depend on that! What can be more mindful than being present to this reality? Call it a quirk or call it a miracle, it is awe inspiring if we let ourselves stop our busyness for a few seconds and contemplate it.

So let’s all take a moment on this winter solstice day to go outside. Feel our feet planted firmly on the earth, our home, and look up at the sky. Feel our place in the universe. Be thankful and amazed that our planet has stayed on its path around the sun.

Happy Winter Solstice! The sun returns!

Other time zones for winter solstice: 12:11 PM Eastern Standard Time, 11:11 AM Central Time, 9:11 Pacific Time, and 5:11 PM UTC


  1. Theresa Gamble
    December 21, 2013

    This morning I am putting together a “solstice scavenger hunt” for the five or so children that will be at my house Christmas Eve-they will be looking for little things that represent all of the elements, sparklers for fire, laser finger beams that attach with a rubber band (also for fire, these won some children’s toy award, and remarkably inexpensive), jingle bells for air, little “gold” nuggets from the gem and mineral show for earth, bean bag “snowballs” for water, and of course, some gold coin candies, just for fun. And Erik has decided we are lighting the yard with luminaries – Happy Solstice!

  2. Joann Calabrese
    December 21, 2013

    I love those ideas! My celebration with the kiddos is on Monday and we plan all yellow and orange food (for the sun)….apricots, clementines, peach yogurt…..
    We usually have a treasure hunt for paper suns, but I like using all the elements!


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