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By Jonathon Engels


For those of us without religious affiliations or those who enjoy spreading planetary love, it might be time to revisit the pagan practices of the old and get in sync with the seasons. The term “pagan” has gotten a bad rap in centuries past, but it is being revitalized by people who like being spiritual but not necessarily theistic.

Paganism has become something that many associate with the eco-friendly movement. It’s a way that we can celebrate a connection with the tangible earth, sun, moon, and seasons. These things are inseparable from our lives, but in recent times, we’ve spent a lot of time and money removing ourselves from them.

Well, acknowledging the solstices and equinoxes—it isn’t at all anti-religious—can help with keeping oneself tuned into the yearly changes the planet undergoes. This connection can go a long way towards improving our appreciation of the environment and the gifts the good planet gives. It’s totally worthy of celebrating.

The Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year (in the northern hemisphere, at least). There are lots of well-known holidays that have derived from it: Christmas, Saturnalia, Yule, and so on. Winter Solstice usually falls on December 21st.

This special time can be celebrated by burning a yule log, hanging mistletoe over the doorway, and bringing evergreen boughs inside. This event marks the return of the sun, the moment when the days begin to grow longer again (until summer solstice).

Other things to do:

  • Clean out clutter before decorating. Now is the time to get rid of the things that have accumulated over the year. Throw a donation party to collect clothing, food, toiletries, and more for those in need.
  • Burning a candle for the night is another tradition.
  • Write your intentions for the coming year and the changes you hope to make in yourself, and toss them in the fire while the yule log is burning.

The Vernal Equinox

The Spring Equinox, or Vernal Equinox, is one of the two days of the year in which the sun is directly overhead at the equator at noon. The day and night are roughly equal lengths on the equinox. It has been adapted into holidays like Easter, Shunbun in Japan, and Persian New Year.

This is a time of rejuvenation, a recognition of the life cycle coming back to the earth. This is why we have symbols like eggs and other images of fertility like rabbits. The Vernal Equinox is on March 21st, and it is the right time to get excited about life.

Other things to do:

  • Wake up at dawn to watch the sunrise. This marks the moment when days become longer than nights (in the northern hemisphere).
  • Take a walk and appreciate the signs of spring: early flowers blooming, birds singing, and trees budding.
  • Sow some seeds for cool-weather plants like greens.

The Summer Solstice

The Summer Solstice, or the longest day of the year, typically occurs on June 21st. It is also referred to as midsummer, though it is actually the first day of summer. It is a symbol of light, life, and bounty.

Celebrating the Summer Solstice centers on appreciating the powerful sun by spending time outdoors. It’s a great time for taking a swim, especially in a natural water source like a river, lake, or ocean.

Other things to do:

  • Make a suncatcher. This is a perfect activity for kids or crafty adults.
  • Create a centerpiece to celebrate the light of summer. Use candles, fruit (especially orange and yellow), and flowers (look for gold and white).
  • Play outdoor games with the family or plant a garden together.

The Autumnal Equinox

Fall Equinox, or Mabon, is the second day of the year when the earth isn’t tilted on its axis such that day and night are the same length. This time, however, the planet is beginning to settle in for its winter nap.

It’s generally on September 21st, marking the beginning of autumn and the days becoming shorter than nights. This is a time of great gratitude and a celebration of the harvests coming in from the summer gardens.

Other things to do:

  • Make a list, as we might at Thanksgiving, of all the things you are thankful for and share what you like of it with loved ones.
  • Get into some arts and crafts with natural objects like fallen leaves, corn husks, flowers, dried seed heads, etc.
  • Prepare a wonderful meal with the fresh fruits and vegetables that are so abundant at this time, and store some of them for winter as well.

What a Wonderful Year

The seasons and the changes they bring are pleasant puzzle pieces that keep the planet healthy and happy. Understanding them, acknowledging the change, and celebrating them are great ways to keep in tune with the earth. It’s a wonderful way to spend the year.

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