Today is the shortest day of the year. The Winter Solstice an astronomical phenomenon marking the shortest day and the longest night has captured the thoughts, feelings of writers for many a long year. Maybe the day will bask in bright sunshine, or maybe the darkening tinge of bleak winter will seem ever more apt, more poetic.
Officially the first day of Winter, it’s always been a time of reflection and close down for me, the space between two worlds, the pre and post Christmas/holiday period. A time to think, to hold what’s dear close, to enjoy time with family and friends, those that I hope make us smile and look forward with renewed vigour and inspiration.
The winter solstice is celebrated by many people around the world as the beginning of the return of the sun, and darkness turning into light. The Talmud recognizes the winter solstice as “Tekufat Tevet.” In China, the Dongzhi Festival is celebrated on the Winter Solstice by families getting together and eating special festive food.
The term ‘solstice’ derives from the Latin word ‘solstitium’, meaning ‘Sun standing still’. In the UK Stonehenge is most associated with the Winter Solstice.
The December solstice marks the ‘turning of the Sun’ as the days slowly get longer. Celebrations of the lighter days to come have been common throughout history with feasts, festivals and holidays around the December solstice celebrated by cultures across the globe.
The Feast of Juul (where we get the term ‘Yule’ from at this time of year) was a pre-Christian festival observed in Scandinavia at the time of the December solstice.
One of my favourites at Christmas The Yule log is associated with this.
People would light fires to symbolise the heat and light of the returning sun and a Juul (or Yule) log was brought in and dropped in the hearth as a tribute the Norse god Thor.
The log would be lit from the remains of the previous year’s log which had been carefully stored away and often slowly fed into the fire through the Twelve Days of Christmas. Tradition dictated that the re-lighting process was carried out by someone with clean hands.
The Yule log is brought in.
For my little blog that also means a time of silence. This year I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my musings, my ramblings and my love of good vegetarian food and the joys a good meal can bring.
The new year will bring some new opportunities, some changes I’m sure to my blog and to life as we know it (as a new year always does).
So from me I would like to wish every single one of my readers a lovely warm food and drink filled holiday and Christmas time.
Happy New Year and thanks for reading and sharing a small part of me.
It’s been a good year. Here’s to the next one.
I’ll leave you with one of my favourite seasonal poems:
Stopping By Woods On a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost.
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
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