The Comox Valley Multicultural & Immigrant Support Society hosts a winter solstice celebration this Friday in downtown Courtenay at the corner of Fifth and England from 1 to 5 p.m.
The solstice has nothing to do with religion, race or nationality. It marks the time of year when days become longer.
Cultural practices are infinite. Most revolve around the concept of light and birth with candles being the most common symbol.
Winter solstice, which usually falls on Dec. 21, has been celebrated throughout the world for thousands of years.
In Iran, it is called Shab-e Yalda, in ancient Greece Lenaia and in Rome Saturnalia. Scandinavian and Germanic countries celebrate Saint Lucia around this time. Belgium is the home to the Koleduvane Festival, which celebrates the birth of the Sun. Poland has the festival of Gody where people forgive one another and share food.
It is also an important component of Central and South American indigenous communities, including El Salvador, Guatemala, Belize and Peru. Judaism celebrates Hanukkah or the Festival of Lights; the Hindu Sankranti takes place on the solstice Jan. 14; and in native American spirituality, the Pueblo tribe follows summer and winter solstices.
Japan, Korea and China also celebrates winter solstice. Dongzhi 冬至 is the name in Mandarin which means ‘extreme of winter.’ In extreme cold, Chinese eat Tang-Yuan (sweet balls served with hot sugar water) to warm their bodies.
Tang is a soup and Yuan is round, which implies reunion. To eat it on the winter solstice is a custom. Children are told that people can add one year to their age after eating Tang-Yuan.
CVMISS welcomes everyone to celebrate Friday, along with millions of people worldwide. The society will provide warm drinks, cookies and games. It will also prepare tealights, with one lit when a participant joins.
The afternoon will include singing and a winter solstice quiz.
Participants are encouraged to bring a pair of socks or anything to keep warm. Collected items will be donated to homeless outreach organizations.
— Comox Valley Multicultural & Immigrant Support Society