Happy December All! I'm so glad you're here.
Let's take a moment to include amongst the holiday celebration the age-old observance of Midwinter's Day.
December 22nd marks the shortest day of the year for this winter, the day when the Earth's tilt in the northern hemisphere is farthest from the Sun. In observance of this day, most every culture has created a way of incorporating its meaning. Of the Solstices and Equinoxes, the Winter Solstice was the most important, since it marked the rebirth of the sun after the shortest day. The Roman midwinter holiday, Saturnalia, was both a gigantic fair and a festival of the home. Riotous merry-making took place, and the halls of houses were decked with boughs of laurel and evergreen trees. The custom of mummers, or carolers, and yule logs burning were popular in the British Isles and Northern Europe. In Sweden, where it's known as St. Lucy's Day, young girls don white dresses and a wreath of candles and awaken their families with cakes and song.
While each culture has there own tradition, one consistent themes is the candle to represent the ever increasing return of the light. Candles are one of the most ancient ways of providing light, so they have come to be its quintessential symbol.
Luminere was, in many respects, a Midwinter's creation. The shop opened its doors not shortly before the solstice. More importantly, its meaning had deep roots for me in this holiday. What seems like a lifetime ago now, I was once both a student and a teacher in academia. As a student, I was experiencing some severe challenges one semester, mainly with what is commonly known as 'the old boy's club.' By the end of the year, I was exhausted and felt war weary. Like I'd been in a ship that'd been tossed about by a deadly storm, one I wasn't sure I'd make it out of in one piece. Almost without thinking, I became an expatriate, relinquishing all student duties to take refuge in the French department for a semester. There I found a friend, a professor who had come from the University of Chicago and was smart in many ways. She taught me some valuable lessons, most of which did not pertain to France. It was here I'd first experienced luminere, or a light-bearing journey. I delighted in the French culture, language, and sentiments. More than this, I hung low for a while, taking a respite, gathering my strength, figuring it out. And it made all the difference. By Spring, I'd found my stride again, and felt a little wiser than before.
Take time this Midwinter's Day. As a personal ritual of illumination, designate a candle as your "solstice" candle and then assign to it a prayer or wish for bringing more light and warmth into a particular area of your life. As the candle softly glows, remember also all the blessings you already have that light and warm your life. Know that your wish is granted just as so many others have been.