mwotw earth holidays

Earth Holidays

My oh my, what a festive time of year this is! 

This week alone, I’m celebrating both Hanukkah 🕎 and Christmas 🎄— and also the Solstice (December 21) and the New Moon (today, December 23).

Those last two might not be on your radar as holidays.

I’ve never seen anyone get the day off for a Solstice, much less in honor of a moon cycle.

They don’t have major world religions behind them, after all.

But for me, these “Earth Holidays,” as I call them, have come to be significant moments I mark throughout the year. 

I like them so much, I made my own Earth Holidays Google Calendar to keep track of them — and you can subscribe too! Just click here.

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Earth Holidays are inarguable. 

Meaning, they’re not based on any history or belief system.

They just ARE, out there in the natural world, for any scientist or careful observer to see.

Every 28 days, the moon reflects the sun all night. (We call that the Full Moon.) How cool.

And 14 days later, the earth blocks all that light and the moon seems to disappear. (We call that the New Moon.)  Also cool.

Every year, there’s a shortest day (Winter Solstice) and a longest day (Summer Solstice), and a series of points to notice between them. Cool again.

The magic arrives when I let those natural cycles take on symbolic meaning, and integrate that meaning into my life.

This also doesn’t require any particular beliefs, exactly. 

Just an openness to being impacted by the world around me, and consciously embracing and amplifying that impact.

New Moons and the Winter Solstice remind me of the power of darkness, of quiet, of rest, of planting seeds, of going inward.

Full Moons and the Summer Solstice remind me that we all have moments to shine, to harvest, to appreciate, to go big.  

They also show me that even at the peak of our brilliance, change is inevitable and we might want to think about letting go.

I often light a candle or do some kind of ritual on the days of these moon and sun thresholds. 

This year, for example, I took the day off for the Winter Solstice to participate in a 9-hour group ceremony that involved candles, going inward, intentions, and even a symbolic death. It was powerful.

I also recognize the Equinoxes in the spring and fall; the days halfway between the shortest and longest days of the year. 

They’re a time I pay attention to balance, and transitions.

And — most unusual of all — I mark the Cross-Quarter Days: the days halfway between the Solstices and the Equinoxes.

The Celtic calendar celebrates these (kind of) as Imbolc, Beltaine, Lammas, and Samhain. (Those don’t match the astronomical truth anymore in terms of the dates, but they’re generally the same.)

I find them interesting because they keep me oriented to the world around me. 

See, these days actually mark the transitions of the “light seasons” of the year. 

For example: The darkest quarter of the year starts on the Cross-Quarter Day in November, reaches its halfway point on the Winter Solstice, and ends on the Cross-Quarter Day in February.

By contrast, the official “first day of winter” is usually considered the Winter Solstice. 

But we’ve already been through a full half of the Dark Times by the time we get there…

So I find it orienting to keep track of and notice these less popular Cross-Quarter Days.

(I’m so into this idea I even wrote an essay about it for Backpacker Magazine several years ago.)

Ok, you can probably tell by now, I’m pretty committed to my Earth Holidays.

In case you might want to have them on your radar as well, I’ve decided to make public the Google Calendar I created for myself to keep track of them.

(You’d think this would exist out there but it doesn’t, so I make my own…)

Click here to view it, and click the little “+Google Calendar” icon on the bottom right to subscribe and have them automatically show up for you.

Festively yours,

Rachel 

PS – What Earth Holidays do you celebrate? Did I miss any?

PPS – Here’s the calendar you can subscribe to. I find it amazingly orienting to automatically know what’s going on with our planet in space.


This post was originally sent as an email to the Magic Words of the Week newsletter list. Every week, I share reflections on a word, quote, or phrase I think will help you thrive in your life’s work.

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