Winter Solstice celebrated at Audubon Society Center

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Thu., Dec. 26, 2013
People dance around the bonfire, which lit up the longest night of the year. Photos by Steve Smith.
People dance around the bonfire, which lit up the longest night of the year. Photos by Steve Smith.

Scores of people packed into the Connecticut Audubon Society Center in Glastonbury, on Dec. 20, for the sold-out Winter Solstice Celebration, marking the longest night of the year. Kasha Breau, Audubon staffer and co-organizer of the event, said the sun rose that morning at 7:14 a.m. and set at 4:22 p.m. The sun would again rise the next morning at the same minute, but set at 4:23 p.m., making Friday night officially the longest night of the year, with only about 9 hours of light during the day on Friday.

“If you are a living creature or plant on this earth, you celebrate the solstice,” Breau said. “Those of us who have come here today, are really celebrating.”

Breau said that the Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanzaa celebrations all take place around the same time of year, which she refers to as the “season of light.”

Attendees were able to read or recite stories or poems, and several musicians performed.

Katie, 9, recited a poem. “Snow is pretty, snow is fun, amazing, until one day, snow turns to slush,” she said, receiving marked applause.

Belly dancer Gia Khalsa also performed. She said she also teaches at the East Hartford and Glastonbury senior centers, and that belly dancing is a “healing art.”

Breau said the occasion is also one to reflect and make plans for the future, such as New Year's resolutions, but also to simply live in the moment. “It's great to take the time,” Breau said, “to live in the moment, and to create mind-space, to breathe, relax, clear your mind, and center yourself... to be mindful, but not mind-full.”

Breau led some Tai Chi Chih meditiation, and Yoga and meditation instructor Wendy Colanz followed by leading a chant.

Colanz added that while most people associate the long, dark night and winter with something foreboding, she sees it as something more like an incubation period. “As we come into the new year, we celebrate a new beginning,” she said. “It's about looking inward and asking what we need to do for ourselves for the new year. It's about looking in.”

The crowd later moved outside and gathered around a bonfire.

Dave McGee – the event's other co-director – said the fire has to do with how people relate to the infinite. “Most people who speak about coming here are trying to place themselves in some kind of continuum,” he said. “The fire hosts the infinite. The flames and the sparks go up, and it's marvelous.”

People used sprigs of plants, including juniper, to throw onto the fire, while making a wish or other intention.

“Rosemary is for remembrance,” Breau said, as one example. “If you want to remember someone, you can take your rosemary and throw it in the fire.”

Audubon staff said the event is always popular, and invited everyone to the summer solstice celebration next June.

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