Advent / Summer solstice – celebrated in December
Michael Mount celebrates Advent with a variety of activities, including the reverent, light-filled Advent spiral, which takes place on the first day of Advent, the fourth Sunday preceding Christmas. The Advent spiral is a spiral of greenery, stones and flowers set out to lead the child inwards, towards a centre where a single large candle illuminates a quiet, darkened room. One at a time, each child walks through the spiral of greenery to the centre of the spiral and lights his or her own candle. The child then turns outwards again, spiralling out, placing the candle somewhere in the spiral of greens on the return path. As each child places his or her candle along the return path, the light in the room slowly grows. It is a quiet and moving experience that signifies a turning inward, finding light at the centre … signifying the inner journey of human beings.
Midsummer in the Southern Hemisphere falls in December. It is considered the turning point at which summer reaches its height and the sun shines the longest. This is the day of the year with the most hours of light.
Many traditions have celebrations around this time in December. Christmas – a Christian holiday on 25 December – is increasingly celebrated by Christians and non-Christians alike. Catholic Christians celebrate the Advent. Judaism celebrates Hanukkah. Pagans celebrate Yule and Yalda. Pre-Islamic folklore considered 25 December as the birthday of the sun. Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honour of Saturn, with festivities between 17 and 23 December that included a public banquet, private gift-giving and continual partying during which masters provided table service for their slaves.
In the Northern hemisphere the Summer solstice is celebrated in late June, and the Winter solstice in December, when Christmas, the Advent and Yule are also celebrated. Because it is so cold and dark, this is a time when the soul withdraws into its innermost depths to experience the inner spiritual light.