Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Just Delicate Needles

Just Delicate Needles

It's so delicate, the light.
And there's so little of it. The dark
is huge.
Just delicate needles, the light,
in an endless night.
And it has such a long way to go
through such desolate space.
So let's be gentle with it.
Cherish it.
So it will come again in the morning.
We hope.

--by Rolf Jacobsen
Translated by Robert Hedin

Winter officially begins today, which means that we’re celebrating Winter Solstice around this house. Winter Solstice is one of my favorite Earth and seasonal celebrations because of the very reason it exists—it’s so connected to the Earth, the seasons, and the sun.

The history of Winter Solstice celebrations is pretty interesting, dating back thousands of years before people understood the cycles of the Earth. Our far back ancestors feared that the Sun would not return and they would be left in darkness, so they held elaborate ceremonies to coax the Sun back. Solstice, which literally translates to ‘Sun stops moving,’ usually occurs on December 21, but sometimes occurs a day on either side.

This is the shortest day of the year, with only a little over nine hours of daylight for us here, and we celebrate the return of the light as the days gradually stretch out longer now.

If you want to welcome the return of the light too, here are a few ideas for ways to make Solstice special: welcome the rising sun, take a walk outside and enjoy the winter world, eat by candlelight and use as few artificial lights as possible, listen to Wyndham Hill music (I like the Celtic Christmas collection), gather food to donate to a food pantry, string bagels dipped in peanut butter and birdseed on a tree for the birds. We plan to have a bonfire in the backyard and drink hot chocolate, and tonight is even a full moon!

There are a few books on the Winter Solstice at the library that are excellent: The Shortest Day by Wendy Pfeffer, The Longest Night by Marion Dane Bauer (both kids books), and The Winter Solstice by John Matthews, which is an excellent history of worldwide Solstice and Christmas traditions. Happy Solstice and Merry Christmas!

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