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Shortest day celebrated in Tahoe

Jeff Munson

On Sunday, the planet experienced its shortest day of the year, known as winter solstice.

On Friday at Mountain Spirit Bookstore in South Lake Tahoe, Tahoe City spiritualist Debi LeFaye held a workshop to explain the Celtic, American Indian, Mayan and Catholic traditions behind the planetary event.

“The celebration of winter solstice has always been steeped in tradition, but it has come within our culture where it has been taken for granted,” said LeFaye, founder of the Academy of Ancient Arts on the West Shore.

A solstice celebration in other cultures, particularly Celtic, has included a ceremonial evergreen tree that is decorated, a candlelight ceremony, stockings filled with gifts, the burning of a Yule log, a special drink of teas or cider, a feast and the sharing of gifts.

“The longest night of the year is a celebration of the return of the light,” LeFaye said. “From Sunday forward, every day grows brighter until the return of summer and its solstice.”

Spiritually speaking, the solstice is about observing light, she said. It is this welcoming of the light by way of the planet and the sun that sets a person’s energy off on the right foot. If one is able to recognize that energy, tradition has it that his or her life will be filled with light the rest of the year.

A typical Celtic ceremony would open with a circle of people holding candles, looking to the north and south, then calling on the heavens to bring in light energy. Next, would be the burning of a Yule log, because tradition has it that smoke and flames carry messages of hope.

In the closing circle, participants would thank the heavens, then blow out their candles. They would end the ceremony by saying three times: “The circle that’s been open shall never be broken.”

At Friday’s workshop, Audrey Krassow said she planned to exercise rituals she had learned in her home.

“I’ve done little things in the past, in a limited way, but never knew how to do it the right way,” said Krassow, a South Shore medical billing clerk. “Now I hope to make it a tradition.”