December 21 marks our winter solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere. It is the longest night of the year, a night for reflection and contemplation as Gaia enters her deep sleep for a season before awaking renewed in the spring. For millennia, cultures have celebrated this day by attributing it to the birthdays of deities, such as the Egyptian god Horus and the Christian god Jesus. Other winter celebrations, such as Brumalia, where ancient Roman farmers honored Ceres and vignerons honored Bacchus, have fallen into obscurity. But regardless of one’s spiritual inclination, much of the world agrees that winter solstice is a very special time of year.
The solstice, of course, has always been observed among pagans. And although Christianity's winter focus is more on December 25 as Christmas, December 21 began to regain recognition in the past few decades as Blue Christmas in the United States. Also called The Longest Night, this day of solemn observance falls toward the end of Advent—a season where Christians reflect upon and prepare for the Nativity, or birth, of Jesus. Blue Christmas is a time where churches encourage quiet reflection and contemplation in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. It is a refuge from all the lights, the decorations, and the caroling. In a way, it is permission for those in mourning to pardon themselves from the festivities in communities where there may be a strong social obligation to smile and be jovial.
A number of American churches open their doors on Blue Christmas for small, intimate services. The observance, which gained popularity in the 1990s, is meant for those mourning a loss in the current or previous year. It is often described as a solemn observance of the empty chair at the dining table, a chair that wasn't empty during last year’s holiday. Whether through death or other grievous circumstances, that chair is now symbolic of loss and heartbreak, and some church services may even aside empty chairs in honor and remembrance of those we’ve lost.
This sober and somber moment may also turn our focus onto our own mortality. This one day during the holiday, souls are encouraged to reflect upon this. It is a day we can dedicate to such a herculean meditation when so many of us feel pressured to otherwise “spread the holiday cheer.” It’s during these winter festivities when the bright, colorful lights of the holiday season seem to bring into stark contrast the darkness that may be shadowing our lives, so we must allow ourselves this time, space and quietude—if only for one day—to contemplate and process the burdens we carry—be it grief, or hurt, or sorrow.
Trying to paste on a smile for everyone else around us does us no big favors when we’re hurting. And no, “fake it until you make it” doesn’t always work, either. The Creator shows us what to do in these challenging times through the cold, silent stillness of the longest night of the year. In the winter, Nature retreats and rests for a spell so that it may reemerge renewed. Who are we to think ourselves greater than Nature itself that we cannot allow ourselves a season to slow down or withdraw in order to recharge? To heal? Even if we are so fated to enjoy a relatively benign year, we should never ignore our season of retreat for rest and restoration.
Know that as spring is promised to us in a short three months, so we all—regardless of religion or faith—can be assured that our souls will also be renewed in their own time. We can find strength in this promise, strength to continue on in the memory of our loved ones, especially knowing that someday we will be reunited with them in the afterlife.
If you have reason to observe Blue Christmas this year, firstly allow us to extend our sympathies to you. Secondly, allow us to remind you that while this may be the longest night of the year—or even the longest night of your life—this darkness is temporary. These shadows will pass, and the springtime sun will return, bringing with it light, warmth and rebirth.
It can happen no other way.
Know that you all are always welcomed to join us for our Annual Blue Christmas Gathering (nonreligious) on Wednesday, December 21 at 8PM ET.
Archangel Immanuel, accompanied by Mother Mary and others, will be speaking with us once again, bringing a message of love, hope and peace.
Or join us Friday, December 23 at Ask Angel Anything where a guest archangel brings us its message for the holiday season. We hope to see you there.
Chantel Lysette, International Author and Psychic Medium