The winter solstice, December 21, is the longest night of the year, observed by many cultures and faiths around the world in many ways. Not only does it fall around the same time of year as Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, Kwanzaa, and other winter holidays, but solstices are themselves observed as holidays by Pagans worldwide (in December in the Northern Hemisphere and in June in the Southern Hemisphere). The solstice brings a wealth of celebrations such as the Scandinavian festival of lights, St. Lucia’s Day, where young girls wear wreaths and candles, and Dong Zhi, the Chinese celebration where families gather and share celebratory meals. On Shab-e Yalda, Iranians celebrate the triumph of light over darkness by performing charitable acts and sharing meals. In the Southern Hemisphere (in June), Indigenous people in Peru celebrate the peak of winter with the Inti Raymi. Many cultures celebrate winter solstice holidays with themes of light and rebirth, spending time with family and friends, and preparing to begin a new year.
However you are celebrating this year, you can find good company in your fellow URI members. Look for Cooperation Circles near you to reach out and wish a new friend a happy holiday.