The Winter Solstice Celebration has been an EUU tradition for decades, beginning with Elizabeth Malone and John Keating hosting in Sembach, Germany, before they hosted in Northern Italy, and later Wiesbaden. For the second year running, Carolyn and Ray have hosted this mini-EUU gathering in Heidelberg, welcoming members and friends for the seasonal celebration. At least five fellowships were represented, as well as at-large members, and four traveled all the way from Paris.

About twenty met at the home of Carolyn and Ray before they embarked on a 30 minute forest walk above the city in crisp weather under a crescent moon. People brought their own decorations to decorate the outdoor tree. Ray Goff read The Night Tree, the book that inspired the tradition of walking to the tree to begin the Solstice celebration. Others gave readings about the solstice and Oh Christmas Tree, The Holly and the Ivy, and the Solstice Chant were sung by the group.

The twenty who gathered around the tree made their way in candlelit procession back to Carolyn’s and Ray’s home for warm food and warm fellowship. They shared three soups, roasted vegetables, macaroni and cheese, and other assorted comfort foods.  Glühwein, eggnog and hot chocolate were enjoyed alongside beer and wine.


Michael, Theresa, and Anna Zink provided the music and led the group in Solstice Carols after dinner, when a ritual was performed to mark the transition to the new year and new beginnings that come with the lengthening days. A bag labeled “Hopes for 2019” and one labeled “Things we want to leave behind in 2018” were offered for people to place their hopes and burdens. The 2018 bag was burned with the words “Pfui, Pfui Pfui.” The 2019 bag was burned with the word “Hurrah,” followed by the burning of the Yule Log and a song to the fire.

Those who traveled the furthest were Peter and Claire Jarrett, Denise Blanc and Diana Smith from Paris. We also had members of the UU Rhein Main, UU Kaiserslautern, and UU Stuttgart Fellowships as well as several at-large members.

Carolyn has stated she would like to encourage more “tent-pole events” in between EUU retreats. If your fellowship is already planning something, and you would like to open it up to other EUU members in the region or beyond, let us know at and we will be happy to help get the word out.