Today is the shortest day of the year. Tonight is the longest night. In times of old our ancestors observed this. Fires and candles, every form of light was employed to help the dying sun be reborn. This is a form of sympathetic magic. Adding our light makes the sun stronger, at least symbolically.
We mimic these customs when we light our trees and our homes this time of year. We light the dark nights still, with barely a thought of helping the sun be reborn. We trust that it will rise again, even after the longest night. But the rituals remain.
For me, this is the night when I can leave behind all the baggage and crap from the year gone by, carrying only the good things forward into the new solar year. I ritualize this in many ways and I've written at length about most of them. I'll link to some of those posts below. The important part in letting past pain go, is to acknowledge the growth it caused. We take the growth with us, but leave behind the dark times that caused it.
We can release the past sunset in the solstice fire on the longest night. The smoke rises to the dying sun, who takes our old, stale baggage with it into the night.
Tomorrow, the sun is reborn. May we all be reborn with the dawn, filled with potential where there used to be pain. We'll then begin mulling what we will create in the year ahead, and more importantly, who we will be? We get to choose.