Lots of people hate the holidays. For me hate isn’t the right word. For me, the holidays are a struggle. And they are toxic. From Thanksgiving to Christmas it’s like one big anxiety attack. Not to mention every food trigger of my migraines (flashy lights, blinding sun shining off of snow) and fibromyalgia (ham, damp cold) being thrown at me at once. By the time I am blissfully ignoring the fact that New Year’s Eve is supposed to be yet another anxiety-inducing situation that, thank all that is holy, my extended family doesn’t care about. The winter holidays have always been unbearably stressful for me.
So, it is with great relief that I embrace the latter months of winter as a time of cleansing and rebirth and preparation for the new year. I am not ready at New Year’s Eve to think about it. I am too busy clutching my knees and rocking. But now! Now is the time to take out the garbage.
This feeling, this celebration welling up in my belly corresponds well to Imbolc and when I have guests over to share it that’s what I call it because that’s what they call it. I, however, cannot justify Imbolc from a religious standpoint. The Celtic Gods are not my Gods and the Wiccan cosmology has never rung true to me. The word Imbolc means nothing to me. On a practical hearth level, the celebration feels right.
Noumenia is my time for cleansing and blessing of the home. So I choose the first New Moon of the Year as my official date for this cleansing holiday of necessity. I could wait a month for Chinese New Year which is perhaps the perfect functionally parallel holiday, if completely removed culturally, but I don’t think I can. This New Moon one, this January New Moon must then be The Big Noumenia. I guess I never tried so hard to define it without just nodding and agreeing that it must be Imbolc. But this year, it is the 20th, and this is what we do:
- In the days leading up to the New Moon, I clean the whole house.
- On the dark of the moon, we build a fire and we burn the things we want to leave behind in the old year. Any bills we have paid off (representative copies), and things written on paper.
- I take apart my besom and burn the bristles
- On the day of the new moon, we have a cleansing feast. Cleansing foods, salad, soup.
- And I re-bristle my broom.
These rituals really help me reground after the chaos of the holidays. Until I do this, I tend to feel all scattered and disorganized. This is a reboot. A new year, a new situation. Still me. But I am starting with a clean slate.
Also, I found this from Diane Sylvan that I think I might incorporate into the fun.