First frost, crisp mornings, dogs and children romping through piles of leaves, good books read during cozy evenings, birds flocking to suet cakes, leisure time with friends, trees transformed in oranges, reds, and yellows – a renewing time of the year heralding the holidays. Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and, in some years, Ramadan. For the record, my favorite among the busy, glitter filled weeks is Winter Solstice.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Thanksgiving with its gathering of family and friends over turkey and potluck dishes in spice scented kitchens, is a priceless day of relaxation before the frenetic round of gifts and parties and glitz. Yeah, I like turkey day.
But it is the often overlooked, shortest day of the year, Winter Solstice, that’s my personal favorite. Ebbing daylight, plants folding into rest, and long reflective evenings pivot on this astronomical event. In northern climates, solstice spawned an eating and drinking orgy for pagans facing starvation from January thru April. In more temperate zones, post summer harvest completion of beer and wine fermentation signaled drinking fests. Cyclic calendars and ideas of birth-rebirth sprang from this shortest day. Do you begin to see my point? Or should I say turning-point. . . ?
Here’s wishing you Merry Solstice. And, for good measure, Happy Holidays.