Today was, in case you didn’t notice (you could be forgiven for missing it), the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice. It’s also the first day of winter, though you wouldn’t know it up here in the Sudz. It’s been snowing and cold since mid-November. It usually is, this time of year, but that doesn’t mean I can’t complain about it.
Now we face the longest night, but you know what? Things get better from here on out.
You’ll notice that the days start getting longer again and we start that long stretch to spring.
Christmas is coming, and with it the latest Doctor Who special 🙂
New Year’s is coming, with all its promise for another fresh start.
We actually have a chance to appreciate the people we’ve taken for granted all year, or the activities we’ve cut back on so that we could work/get the promotion/pursue various important things.
We can put things in perspective.
We just went out to celebrate my mom’s birthday. It was yesterday, but we celebrated tonight because everyone’s off. I was a terrible kid and forgot to wish Mom happy birthday yesterday. I took her shopping this afternoon. I don’t think it really made up for the lapse.
The 20th of December was also the day, twenty years ago, that Phil asked me to marry him.
We were getting ready to take my mom out, and I’d just gotten off work. I was a life guard back then, and I was rushing to get changed. I noticed that every time I turned around, Phil was there, but I whirling-dervished around him until I turned and nearly tripped over him.
Phil was kneeling. I was stunned until I realized what was going on. Then, I was all *amazeface*! He asked my parents’ permission and everything.
I’m always rushing at this time of year, and I have to remember to slow down and appreciate the people in my life.
Slow. Down. Appreciate. People.
Don’t be a dervish douche. Don’t forget your mom’s birthday. Trust me. It sucks.
Other reasons I like the solstice
Because of the tilt of the earth’s axis and the way we orbit the sun, we have seasons. The solstices and equinoxes delineate the divisions of the year.
It is a fact that the winter solstice is the occasion of the shortest day of the year and the longest night. In the northern hemisphere, anyway.
Well, neo-pagan, at least.
Seemingly on the opposite side of the spectrum, the solstices and equinoxes form some of the pagan holy days. In case you haven’t been following me for that long, my spiritual inclination is agnostic with pagan leanings.
Well, Phil is atheist, and we’ve discussed religion at length. I think that the atheist position is very sensible. I also acknowledge that there is a lot that science hasn’t made clear for us yet, and while I think that the existence or non-existence of God is not one of the questions that science can answer for us, I think that there is enough mystery left in the universe that the answers science will provide us will be surprising.
I like to keep an open mind.
Besides which, I’m a fiction writer. A fantasy fiction writer at that. Gods, goddesses and magic are kind of what I’m all about.
I’ve studied shamanism in some depth (though not, I would say, comprehensively) and I’m fascinated by the ancient sites and their purported use in astronomy and astrology, time-keeping, the precession of the stars, and the observation of the sun.
I could geek out on ancient cosmology all day and all night.
Because a lot of people travel to visit relatives at this time of year, the city (small, yes, but a city nonetheless) grows quiet. In the morning when I’m walking the dog, I can feel the increased stillness, the anticipation of a world holding its breath for the next sunrise.
It’s about light.
This is why we have so many festivals of lights at this time of year. We’re fighting back the darkness, recalling the light, celebrating with our wee candles in the night, shielded against the wind.
I prefer strings of LED lights on the stair rails outside my house, though. I plug ‘em in the night before solstice and don’t unplug ‘em until New Year’s Day.
I’d just like to wish everyone, regardless of your religious or spiritual convictions or devotions, the happiest of holiday (holy day) seasons.
And ‘cause I was raised Christian and still celebrate with my nearest and dearest: Merry Christmas!
- Photos: Winter solstice ceremony at Stonehenge (photos.denverpost.com)
- 5 Things to Know About the Winter Solstice (newsfeed.time.com)
- Happy Winter Solstice! (drses.wordpress.com)
- Winter Solstice (awritersfountain.wordpress.com)
- Honoring the Winter Solstice (dailymuse.spiritlightinsight.com)