Day One of eleven days of the Winter Solstice Event, which will end Dec. 31, 2012.
I’ve written before about how I was truly affected as a child by the lights that brightened the dark nights in my hometown Philadelphia during the holiday season in December. After lighting the menorah candles at my aunt and uncles’ home, I would walk the few blocks home to my house in the cold, dark streets, loving the warmth and cheer the menorahs in the windows and the Catholic Christmas lights brought.
Today is the Winter Solstice, 2012, and I’m kicking off Day One my first Winter Solstice event with a story to relate about winter stars, lights and religion that I didn’t know about just a few days ago. I am going to try to touch upon Irish, Pagan, Jewish and a number of other cultures and religions that have special rituals and events at this time of the year, but it was through my Filipino friends here in Miami Shores I discovered the beauty of Simbang Gabi. The words mean evening mass, and it became a tradition hundreds of years ago in the Philippines. Filipino farmers wished to have the masses said before the heat of the day started, when they still had energy, so the Spanish priests held them at 3:30 in the morning. Simbang Gabi lasts for nine days – a novena. In modern times, with modern schedules, it started at 7:30 PM 🙂
Each day the services move from church to church. Today, the sixth day, it was hosted at Miami Shores’ St. Rose of Lima church. Handmade lanterns, called parols, are a big part of the aesthetics of the masses, and in Filipino cities, homes and streets are decorated with them the way we lavishly put up Christmas lights.
This time of year is also a time of gift-giving, and it’s a way for me to give back to the lovely community of perfumistas that have helped my business grow in the past six years. I’ll be posting more about the process of perfume making during this event, and fragrant discoveries. Like the discovery of the floral/lemony Aglaia absolute from China a few years ago. I now have a huge tree of it growing in my front garden, and I harvest it for my perfumes. The tiny yellow flowers, round and closed, are like little points of light, and their scent if deliciously sweet and clean. My citrusy cologne-type perfume Light has Aglaia and it’s glorious supporting base notes of frankincense EO and frankincense resin.
Leave a comment about the season, your holiday tradition, or just say hi and wish me well in this new adventure of solstice blogging, and you’ll be in the drawing for a 15ml spray of the EdP of Light. Prizes will be shipped worldwide. Posting for the Light drawing ends tomorrow, Dec. 22 at 10 a.m. ET, USA.
Good luck to everyone!
A little more about the Simbang Gabi: the music was magnificent. I don’t remember hearing a more beautiful choir. It’s been decades since I’ve been in a Catholic church or synagogue, and I loved the serenity and devotion of the worshippers. What a surprise Simbang Gabi was to me, another beautiful ritual that became known to me through serendipity. Stars and lights figure prominently in Simbang Gabi, and here is a photo of one of the parols in church tonight.