At our little hearth, the two of us celebrate Solstice Tide, twelve days of worship between December 20 and December 31. I can’t take credit for this tradition, of course — I learned of it first from Three Cranes Grove and their Yule-Along on Facebook, and some inspiration there came from The Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Christmas, which I have also read.
Our Solstice Tide looks a little different each year, taking into account things like my Brighidine flametending shifts, the moon phase, when our Grove and family gatherings are, and work schedules. The overall feel is still the same from year to year, and I find it helps with focusing on our faith and traditions during this season of secular stress.
This year, it seems that Solstice Tide starts even earlier with our Grove’s Winter Solstice ritual tonight. I’m serving as Fire Tender, so I get the pleasure of having a front row seat to our annual winter play.
Because of the New Moon (first sliver) falling on the same night as Solstice Eve, we’ve expanded our Solstice Tide by a day so that we don’t have four things to do that night – my stamina is waning in the last weeks of pregnancy.
While I feel it’s important to share what we do, I won’t be sharing our actual ritual texts as those are for my hearth only this year. Please keep in mind that some of this is UPG, Grove-specific, or a seemingly strange mix of traditions, but one’s hearth religion is simply that and no more, with influences from various sources for various reasons.
Here’s a brief summary of our worship in the last half of December:
19 – Ringing in the Season. Welcoming this seasonal tide with a purification of smoke and bells.
20 – Mothernight. Appealing to Eithne and our female ancestors for a year-omen. Dáir na Coille (first sliver of the New Moon). Leaving offerings outside for the new souls that will be born this year, coming in on the wind. Solstice Vigil. My husband will stay up all night on behalf of our household, waiting for the return of the Sun.
21 – Winter Solstice. My husband will tag me in when he goes to bed, so I can perform the sunrise rite.
22 – An Cailleach of the Moraine. Honouring a local spirit important to our watershed and Grove.
23 – Hearth Flame I. Honouring Brighid as the centre of our home.
24 – Sviata Vechera. Ukrainian Christmas Eve supper.
25 – Gifting Day. Remembering and acting in accordance with the virtue of hospitality.
26 – Wren Day. Celebrating Jinny Wren as the King of All Birds.
27 – Honouring the Nature Spirits.
28 – Wassailing the Trees. The cup it is white and the ale it is brown!
29 – Bringing in the Boar. Having contemplated the year-omen, declaring our resolutions. Also, some Twelfth Night festivities including the crowning of the Bean King.
30 – Hearth Flame II. Honouring Brighid as Fire Tender and the ADF Unity Flame.
31 – Twelfth Night. A small gathering to drive the dark away.
January 1 – Full Cold Moon. Not technically part of Solstice Tide this year but falling immediately after, honouring Eithne at the first full moon of Winter.