TARRYTOWN, N.Y. Most people think of Christmas, Hannukah or Kwanzaa when discussing the holiday season, but a growing population in the Tarrytown area celebrates something different: the solstice.
Chuk Hognell is a member of the Asatru community, a religion that has roots in Northern Europe for several thousand years.
We celebrate on the solstice by gathering together feasting and drinking mjöd, reflecting on the past year, honoring our ancestors and the gods, decorating with evergreen to represent life during harsh winter months and generally enjoying time with family, Chuk Hognell said.
Solstice festivities include drinking mjöd, which Hognell says is a wine made from fermented honey, and lighting a fire to encourage the sun to come back to us, Denise Wolf said. Wolf is also a member of the Heathen/Asatru community.
Wolf says she's constantly correcting people on common misconceptions of how and what Heathens honor and celebrate this time of year. The celebration, she said, is to honor and celebrate ancestors, the gods and the life-giving cycle of the sun. The Solstice, she noted, is when the sun's cycle begins to make days longer again.
There is great feasting, joking, boasting and laughter, Wolf said. There is no mandatory exchange of gifts, or strict limitations on what we can or cannot eat. We simply take this time to respect, appreciate and enjoy the family, gods, nature and life around us.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.