Look on the Bright Side Day
If you haven’t heard of Look on the Bright Side Day, please join me during this deepest, darkest part of winter as we discover this uplifting celebration of positivity!
There is no historical evidence of when this special day began or who declared it necessary. Still, any human on the planet during the cold winter months can identify with the need to find some warmth and positivity. As a former Chicagoan and Pittsburgher, I know the winter blues all too well!
With seasonal affective disorder, also known as SAD, a very real affliction brought on by the change of seasons and generally beginning in late fall, it’s bound to hit harder smack dab in the middle of December! Who wants feelings of sadness, lack of energy, oversleeping, and weight gain? Keeping a positive outlook when the body believes it should be hibernating can be tough, but let’s give it a go[i]!
Look on the Bright Side Day is observed on the winter solstice, December 21st. It is a time to welcome the sun’s return with the promise of rebirth and growth.
For a little history, winter solstice tradition can be traced back to the Neolithic period, beginning in about 10,200 B.C. in the last part of the Stone Age. Important European archaeological sites like Stonehenge in England and Newgrange in Ireland are associated with the winter solstice. Even today, merrymakers can observe the glorious sun rising or setting through the stones[ii].
The ancient Romans’ celebration of Saturnalia occurred around the time of the winter solstice to celebrate the end of the planting season. Spanning numerous days, this tradition most closely resembles modern-day Christmas with gift-giving, games, and feasts. Social order was even suspended, allowing slaves to be treated as equals.
In North America, the Hopi Indians of Northern Arizona celebrated the winter solstice with a tradition called Soyal. Rituals and ceremonies included dancing, purification, and even the occasional gift-giving. The Hopi would use this time to welcome protective spirits from the mountains called the kachinas.[iii]
Started in Ancient Persian times, Yalda, or Shab-e Yalda, is an Iranian festival celebrated on the winter solstice. “Yalda” is a Syriac word meaning “birth,” and the festival is traditionally known as the victory of light over dark. Celebrating the eve of the birth of Mithra, the sun god, revelers gather with special foods like pomegranates and nuts, and some families stay awake all night long to greet the morning sun.[iv]
It is easy to see why our forbearers took special care to celebrate and lighten spirits in the cold winter months. With traditions designed to thank and celebrate what we have and look forward to all that’s to come, I am inspired to take some positive action!
Here are some surefire ways to make Look on the Bright Side Day 2022 your happiest:
- Light festive lanterns! If you are like me, any reason to pick up some deliciously scented candles is a good reason, and the spirit of welcoming the light, burning candles, lighting lanterns, or stringing lights around your house will have you feeling merry in no time.
- Wassail while you work! Mulled apple cider is a mouthwatering treat and serving it up warm on a cold day is the perfect way to spice up your spirits. There are so many lovely recipes as well as premade spice bags to enjoy, but here is a quick and easy version I love!
- Directions: Combine 2 quarts apple cider, 1 1/2 cups orange juice, 3/4 cup pineapple juice, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, 2 cinnamon sticks, a dash of ground cinnamon, a dash of ground clove, and a star anise in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and allow to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Discard the cinnamon sticks and star anise, pour into mugs, and garnish with orange slices. And once you clock out for the day, a splash of rum or brandy can really punch up that wassail!
- String popcorn and cranberries: com had a wonderful suggestion to decorate a live outdoor tree with biodegradable, edible ornaments for birds and other little critters. Homemade bird feeders, peanut butter pinecones, seed ornaments, and the favorite popcorn and cranberry garlands are great fun with the whole family[v]!
- Resolutions reflection reinvention! Perhaps most importantly, I will take the end of the year to pause on all I have accomplished and reflect on all to come in the fresh new year!
[i] Seasonal Depression (Seasonal Affective Disorder) (clevelandclinic.org)
[ii] LOOK ON THE BRIGHT SIDE DAY – December 21, 2022 – National Today
[iii] 7 Winter Solstice Celebrations | Britannica
[v] MOTHER: How To Celebrate The Winter Solstice (mothermag.com)
Ask her to share receipt source – was it https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/cider-wassail/?