2013-12-13 / Community

Winter solstice celebration to be held

There’ll be dancing, singing, juggling and a little bit of magic at this year’s winter solstice celebration on Saturday, Dec. 21, at Kennebunk’s First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church. Sponsored by the Women for All Seasons, the event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and festivities will begin at 7 p.m. in the upstairs sanctuary, which is handicap accessible.

All those attending are asked to bring one nonperishable food item for York County Shelter Program’s Food Pantry in Alfred and/or a finger food to share during the evening.

Held on the longest night of the year, the ceremony is actually a celebration of the return of the light. The magic will be provided by Paul Beach, amateur magician and part-time math and physics teacher.

Other entertainers will include Bruce Childress, a Kennebunk bagpiper (and bagpipe maker) local juggler Bernie Reim, the Country Scottish Dance Group of Kennebunk, along with local singers, drummers and storytellers. Audience members are encouraged to sing yule carols. A guided meditation and poetry reading will also be part of this midwinter celebration.

A highlight of the evening will be the presentation of the yule log based on European traditions. According to Sheila Littlefield, a member of Women for All Seasons, “Yule has been celebrated in Europe and the Americas for many centuries. A number of the traditions from yuletide festivals have been incorporated into our Christmas rituals, such as hanging greens and mistletoe, candle lighting, caroling and gift giving. Ancient people knew that the winter solstice was an important turning point in the year, the time when the sun would begin to return and, after steadily waning light, days would start to be longer. Celebrating together in community is also an important way for us to connect to the changing seasons, especially here in New England.

While in the past, yule logs were lit and burned for hours, this big and beautiful yule log is ceremonial and will be illuminated with strings of electric candles. The revelry will then continue in the parish hall, with drumming, dancing and feasting in the tradition of Yule celebrations everywhere.

For more information, email Jean Hoffenkamp, ajhoffenkamp@gwi.net.

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