What the Winter Solstice Can Teach Us About Resilience

The winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, is a major yearly landmark in the cycle of life, both physically and spiritually.

Since the summer solstice in July, the sun has shown its face less and less. The earth, spinning constantly, slowly tilted until the northern hemisphere reached its farthest point from the sun today. The result is the shortest, darkest day of the year.

But seen the other way, the winter solstice marks the beginning of longer days—a shift from sinking deeper and deeper into winter, to closer to summer. From now on, the days will continue to lengthen until July.

Every year, the same cycle continues. It can be trying at times; as the long winter days stretch on and on, we hope for the days when the warm summer sun can kiss our cheek again. But in a way, the cycle is comforting. With the pressing uncertainties of war, natural disasters, and other world events, the solar cycle is unceasing.

For centuries, many different religious and spiritual traditions have been celebrating the winter solstice. Themes of rebirth, the triumph of light over darkness, positive energy, and general merriment weave their way through these holidays. It is striking how, instead of pessimism, humanity has repeatedly chosen an optimistic view.

Perhaps, the metaphorical triumph over the worst-possible day of the year overpowers any cynicism about the darkness. This shows that, symbolically, the winter solstice is a celebration of resilience—the conquering of another year, however challenging.

Consider all of the ways you’ve been resilient this year, even in the smallest of ways.

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