Solstice Bonfire Bring’s Hilltown Families Together
Winter Solstice Tradition Begins, 2006
By Sienna Wildfield
ASHFIELD, MA (Dec 23, 2006) – Ancient and modern Winter Solstice traditions were celebrated on the town green in Ashfield, MA this past Friday evening, organized by Ashfield residents, Laura Stravino and Victoria Worth. Wanting to begin a local Solstice celebration tradition they could share with their community inspired Stravino and Worth. With the help of several community members, they successfully put together an inspiring event. Ashfield teachers Edie and Julie joined in with their families under umbrellas as a light freezing rain fell. A beautiful bonfire warmed the crowd and Stephen Worth and Lael Boesel tended to the fire. Elmer’s Store offered hot cocoa and a warm meal and Country Pie was open for oven fresh pizza. Storytelling, songs and dancing filled the darkest night of the year, and families from all over the hills came to celebrate together.
The Hilltown Children’s Chorus had their debut at the Solstice celebration. Spear-headed by Stephanie Pasternack of Cummington, MA, this new chorus sang This Little Light of Mine, Jingle Bells and Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel, led by blues singer Marla BB of West Chesterfield, MA. Marla also led the crowd in a variety of songs of light as they gathered around the fire.
Morris Dancers arrived after the kids sang. Morris dancing is an English folk dance and is choreographed with rhythmic stepping while wielding wooden swords they’d knock together. Music played and the dancers performed a festive dance around the fire, knocking their swords together and singing out praises.
With children participating, storyteller Rona Leventhal wove together a Native American creation tale about forest animals attempting to retrieve the sun’s light. Only the wise Mother Spider was able to bring the sun’s light back to them.
Toward the end of the celebration, families took part in a candle dedication. Each participant lit candles, offered their own personal message and placed them together with others.