2021 has given us many challenges and some blessings in disguise. I am certainly grateful for the lessons I’ve learned this year which forced me out of my comfort zone and made me stronger. That said, I’m hopeful that next year’s lessons will be lighter and easier, and I’m ready to welcome 2022.
If you feel the same, keep reading to find out how you can welcome the New Year 10 days early this year. I’ll share with you two reasons and one ritual for honoring the solstice on December 21. Adiós, 2021!
In the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice is the shortest day and longest night. From this point until June 21, the days grow longer. Our sisters in the Southern Hemisphere experience this too, but simply on reversed dates.
Through the fall season, Mother Nature has been guiding us to rest and turn inward. The trees have dropped their leaves, animals have grown thicker fur, and the darkness tucks me into bed early each night.
I feel a palpable downshift in my energy in November and early December, as I wrap up this year’s projects and try not to take on anything new.
Even if you live in a warm climate that doesn’t experience a dramatic fall or winter, you can still observe subtle changes in plants and animals from month to month.
As we mature, we tend to see things more holistically. That’s wisdom, right?
This year, you may not be able to travel nor gather, create nor participate in holiday traditions. It may be a gift just this once. Take the cue from the natural world, release your attachment to established holidays, and celebrate Mother Nature’s New Year on December 21.
I see the 10-day span between December 21 and January 1 as a grace period. In spiritual traditions, grace is defined as a freely given gift from God. Other definitions are simple elegance, and to bestow one’s presence on someone.
In the past, I often crammed this week and a half with travel, socializing, errands, and to-do lists, as it was one of my rare times off work. Now I’ve learned to treat this time with more grace: less busy-ness, more presence, and an intention to receive the gift of time.
This grace period is an ideal time to practice next year’s goals and intentions, without pressure. I think of it like a “test drive” for next year’s habits.
If you want to start walking daily, or doing yoga, or cooking soups, ease into those goals after the solstice. Try them on and see how you might need to tweak them for success next year. If you haven’t quite wrapped up 2021’s projects, do so at this time.
I do this simple ritual on both the solstices and equinoxes. It’s how I prioritize how I will spend my energy and time in the coming season.
Write down one thing you want to release or get rid of from your life, such as worry, pain, fear, etc. This year I am letting go of “being too busy.” Use a paper that is not bound in a journal.
On a separate piece of paper or two, write down one thing you are grateful for and one way you will serve others for the next three months. For my gratitude reminder, I choose something that I want to be more mindful of, or something I want to create.
As an example, this solstice I am writing down, “I am grateful for deep, restful sleep.” For service, I wrote down, “I commit to listening,” to remind me of my intention to listen more attentively, as a way of serving others. I use adhesive Post-it notes so that I can easily keep these on my desk.
On or before December 21, burn the paper with what you want to release. Take some time to let go emotionally, mentally, and physically.
Post the others in a place you will see them regularly. I also recommend that you spend some time appreciating the sun and the moon that day, to remind you of Mother Nature’s New Year.
Then enter your 10-day grace period with grace. Don’t complain about the absence of the usual holiday traditions, people, and things. Instead, be wise, full of grace, and present to what is. Conserve some energy and time for what nourishes you, and try on your new habits for a head-start on 2022.
Now it’s your turn.
How do you honor the solstice? How do you prepare yourself for the New Year? Will you do something different this year? Please leave a comment below.