What we celebrate:
The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year and the longest night. We celebrate because no matter how bleak the night looks nor how long it lasts, the sun will always rise again. The seasons change and winter is not forever. Every day after winter solstice will be longer than the one before. Plants will grow and animals will thrive with the lengthening of the sunlight. Do not despair: the earth is not dead, just asleep. Brighter days are ahead, thanks to the winter solstice.
How we celebrate:
The night before we burn a log that we have attached cinnamon, cloves, apples and oranges to so that it smells good while it burns. For as long as it burns we talk about events of the past year and hopes for the coming year. We eat together and drink wassail, toasting to our family's health and good fortune. We also sing songs like The Wassail Song, Jingle Bells, Deck the Halls, and The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) - all of which have themes that can be enjoyed no matter religious preferences.
We decorate an outdoor living evergreen with edible items for animals to eat during the winter when nature provides them the least. mother nature puts fruits and nuts on the trees in summer for all her creatures, including us. We put fruit and nuts on the tree in winter when she cannot. We enjoy seeing the animals and birds eat our decorations because they are reminders that life continues and that the circle is never ending.
We decorate the Solstice Tree with:
1.) pinecones (evergreens - proof that there is life even in the coldest winter) covered with peanut butter (just plain tasty)
2.) golden apples to symbolize the sun
3.) suet cakes with birdseed and raisons in fat
4.) popcorn strings (corn kernels - cold and hard and seemingly lifeless, it just needs heat and 'pop' the life comes bursting out - just like the earth in winter looks dead, but holds life inside, just waiting for the sun's heat to bring it out.