Dark nights are rushing with speed towards their only chance this winter solsctice of becoming the longest night. The sun continues to fight the darkness with gifting us with its own language of love in form of some spectacular and intense sunsets up here in the North. No matter if light or the lack of it rule our skies, the neighbourhood trees stand barren; the last autumn leaves just fell to the ground to provide them with enough nourishment for the winter. Under the frosted surface underneath the trees, the animals hunkered down to hibernate. What we witness when we look out of our windows right now mimics beautifully what is happening inside of us. The darkness around us is perfect for going inwards, dreaming, saving up energy necessary to live through the next three months, and it is perfect for some meditating with a warm cup of tea.
What we also soak up in Sweden during the night’s quest for longevity is magic. Framed by the windows, lights in shape of colorful stars hanging in the middle of the windows as well as candles, light up our streets, emulating old pagan traditions when candles were lit as a vigil to the sun that they believed was disappearing. Even though these days we know that the sun comes back eventually, our neighbours turn into the most skilful electricians to bring some light into our souls and kick off the holiday season.
Christmas trees and city decoration are already up, the smell of saffron buns linger down our streets, and the kids are already making gift wish lists. Adding different spices to Christmas Teas liven up our homes. It’s time to do some shopping. Big gift or small gift, personal or something common, our brains flood with great ideas and some that are immediately cancelled. At times it can be overwhelming, thus it is good to remember why we gift in the first place.
Do you know that the tradition of gift giving goes back to our primate ancestors?
The bonobo apes that help scientist understand how humans evolved show generosity through giving each other food. As an experiment, they put two bonobo apes next to each other in different cages with an open window in-between them. One of the apes received a few nuts and a stone, which they use as a nutcracker, and the other ape just received a stone. You guessed it, the bonobo with the nuts passed a few of the fruits to his new friend through the window.
Evidence that the cavemen gave each other gifts is also found. Long ago, it was simple things found in nature, animal rocks, teeth used as jewellery. Gifts were given to attract mates and show competency.
In ancient Rome, during the seven days from Dec 17th to Dec 24th, Saturnalia, the farmer’s festival celebrating the end of autumn planting honouring Saturn, was celebrated. Small dolls made of dough, caged birds, candles, writing material, gaming tables and nuts to gamble with were gifted. The rich swapped clothes with the poor and the chosen few even paid the rent of those who could not afford it. All gathered together to drink and eat and celebrate in unity.
Different countries have different stories and traditions, different religions different timings, but gifts have been with us since the beginning of time. Gifts are the familiar language of love, appreciation, respect and generosity. To give them produces warmth and well being, to receive them happiness and self worth. The gratitude is reciprocal. And no matter if the gift is big or small, it is important to show that you put thought into it, that you understand the person that you are gifting. After all, it is the intention and caring that counts and that bring relationships to a deeper connection and intimacy.
Let light, Christmas tea and meaningful gifts ignite this year’s winter solstice for you and don’t forget to, just like the ancient Romans, extend your hand and lift the spirit of someone in need.
For every tea purchased this season, Min Syster’s Tehus will donate 1 euro to their foundation.
Gift to show love Min Systers Tehus Lemon Balm and Rose Buds
Gift of generosity Min Systers Tehus Surprise Subscription
Gift to Make your own Christmas Tea Min Systers Tehus Ceylon Tea
“Both the Winter and the Summer Solstices are expressions of love. They show us the opposition of light and dark, expansion and contraction, that characterize our experiences in the Earth school so that we can recognize our options as we move through our lives.” — Gary Zukav
Maja Milanovic is the founder of the digital publication Tarantula where she publishes more of her own stories and articles inspired by art in addition to featuring artists and guest writers. She hopes to inspire people to enter art daily into their lives. Her story The Language of Strawberries will be published in January in The Stripes Magazine. She also has an international experience in film, theatre and TV as a writer and director as well as writing and proofreading blogs and online content. You can follow her on Instagram @tarantula_authors_and_art. If you would like to read more of her work, subscribe to (https://majamilanovic.substack.com)
Photos courtesy of Maja Milanovic