Ah, the winter solstice — the darkest time of year, when the earth’s poles reach their maximum tilt away from the sun. Here in the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice happens this year on Saturday, December 21st. Light therapy lamps flicker on in cubicles across the country, holiday lights bedazzle homes and trees, and a host of festivals and celebrations pay homage to light in all its many beautiful, life-giving forms.
It’s a time of year when the balance of light and dark feels tenuous and fragile, darkness threatening to swallow the world if we don’t beat it back with all the light we can muster. We throw parties, gather in fellowship, light candles, swath our homes in twinkles, nurture generosity and abundance, and make new resolutions for how we want to grow and evolve when we begin our annual cycle around the sun all over again.
Some things are universal. Humans have been celebrating the solstice for thousands of years, and we’ve been cultivating hemp for just as long. These are traditions that nourish us, body and soul. We’d do well to look to the wisdom of these ancient practices for how they can sustain us in our busy modern lives.
Here’s a little rundown of solstice-centered festivals and celebrations across human history and cultures:
St. Lucia’s Day
Also known as the Festival of Lights, St. Lucia’s Day is celebrated in Sweden, Norway and parts of Finland on December 13th to bring hope and light during the darkest time of year. Young girls dress in white and wear lighted wreaths in honor of the candles Saint Lucia wore as she brought food to Christians hiding in the catacombs in the 3rd century.
An ancient Roman festival, Saturnalia was celebrated on December 17th through 24th to pay homage to the Roman god of agriculture and time. It entailed a weeklong party, public banquet and gift-giving.
In Japan, the winter solstice is framed in terms of yin and yang. On the shortest day of the year, yin (cold, dark) is dominant but preparing to yield to the rising energy of yang (light, warmth). The Japanese celebrate by taking hot yuzu baths, eating kabocha squash, and attending outdoor, bonfire-studded festivals at shrines.
In Chinese, Dong Zhi means “extreme of winter,” and is one of the most important festivals celebrated by the Chinese, Japanese and Koreans on the solstice. People eat rice balls and dumplings and gather at ancestral temples to worship and celebrate.
The traditional winter solstice celebration of the Hopi and Zuni people, Soyal is an all-night ceremony on the night of the solstice. People kindle fires, dance, give gifts and bless the community with prayer sticks for purification to mark the beginning of a new cycle of the Wheel of the Year.
“Shab-e Yalda,” which translates to “Night of Birth,” is an Iranian festival celebrated on the winter solstice. Friends and family gather to eat pomegranates and watermelons, whose red hue symbolizes the glow of dawn and the sun’s return. They burn fires, recite poetry and perform charitable acts, with some staying up all night to honor the rising sun the next morning.
There are so many things these festivals and celebrations have in common: a focus on togetherness, the lighting of fires and lamps, a sense of generosity and preparation for a new beginning. They also emphasize sustenance, nurturing and the things humans need in order to stay healthy in the season of dark and cold.
The winter solstice is a time of year when we need to take extra care to nurture our sense of balance. If the solstice is a turning point, a hinge in the year, we need to be on point to pivot along with it. And here’s where hemp can help.
This time of year is tailor-made for calm and restfulness. If we can wrench ourselves away from the blue glow of our screens and honor the darkness beckoning us to an early bedtime, rest helps fuel us through the parties and gatherings that dot our December calendars. Establishing a bedtime ritual is one helpful tactic for winding down — a cup of hot herbal tea, a few drops of Broad Spectrum Hemp Extract with CBD, a warm bath and a few pages of a good book can help signal to your mind and body that it’s time to transition into slumber.
The endocannabinoid system has its work cut out for it at this time of year. It keeps your body’s network of systems harmonized in the face of all the challenges December throws their way. Give it a gentle gesture of support with a daily infusion of Broad Spectrum Hemp Extract with CBD, whether adding a few drops to your morning mug or blending some fortifying protein powder into your post-workout smoothie.
And let’s not forget hemp hearts and all the nutritional benefits they have to offer in this season of sweets and blood sugar swings. Stabilizing protein, nourishing omegas and digestion-supporting fiber all add up to a superfood ingredient you can feel good about adding to your sweet and savory snacks all winter long.
This is the time of year when we have to manufacture our own light from within, and nurture it in each other. May hemp help your inner light burn strong this solstice season!
The information provided is for informational purposes only. None of the information provided here should be considered medical advice or treatment recommendations. Consult with your health care provider if you have questions about incorporating CBD into your wellness regimen.