The Labyrinth dressed for winter.

“Winter solstice! A time of transition in the annual war of light vs darkness, cold vs warmth, abundance vs shortage, life vs death!  All people in our northern climes have tended to view this as the crucial time of year.  A time to hold ceremonies designed to assist nature in rebounding from the path toward oblivion to one directed toward prosperity.” Von Del Chamberlain, formerly a professor of astronomy  at Michigan State University and author of numerous books. 

Note: Solstice is a combination of two Latin words: sol meaning sun, and sistere to cause to stand still.

The greatest religious and cultural celebrations and festivals take place at winter solstice time.  “The festivals of darker days are really celebrations of light,” Chamberlain observes. “To this day, the world is still influenced by various traditions linked to the observance of the December solstice.”

Note: The Winter Solstice occurs when the northern axis of the Earth is titled farthest from the sun, usually between December 20 and the 23.  This year it is on December 21.

Many believe Christmas, Dec. 25, was chosen to offset the pagan celebration of Saturnalia and Natalis Invicti; others believe “celebrating the birth of the ‘true light of the world’ was on that day because from that point onwards, the days began to have more daylight” in the north, per “In several languages, not just in English, people have traditionally compared the rebirth of the sun with the birth of the son of God, “ Harry Yeide, Professor of Religion at George Washington University.

Observances in various cultures prior to Christianity could include candles, singing, music, chanting, procession, dancing, bonfires, food, and burning the Yule log. Makar Sankranti is a huge festival in India celebrating the sun’s ascendency, marked by gift giving and special prayers.  The Jewish “festival of light” - Hanukkah – is seen by many to be a metaphor for the hopeful lengthening of days.

Attendees can participate in a Spiral Dance with Raven Crow High PriestessPam Kincaid with rhythms by Drums Not Guns is part of the celebration.

The Labyrinth Walk Coffee House has designed a celebration that encompasses many of these and other traditions for an entertaining and fun.  Participating are musicians Jenni Mansfield Peal, GlorChanters, Gabrielle West, Sound Oasis, and Taikodelic; storytellers Gene and Peggy Helmick-Richardson; and children’s music with Willow and Her Giant.  There will be Earth Loom decorating; tarot card and rune readings by Terry Guyton; a Labyrinth walk; and Yule log burning; and .

The Winter Solstice Celebration will be held Dec. 21 from 6 pm to 9:30 pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff, 3839 W. Kiest Blvd., Dallas.  Admission is free, but donations to offset costs are welcome.  Please bring canned goods or good clothing for the Church’s food/clothing drive.  Cash donations for performers are encouraged.  

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