Archive for December 21st, 2011

Shall we liken Christmas to the web in a loom?  There are many weavers, who work into the pattern the experience of their lives. When one generation goes, another comes to take up the weft where it has been dropped.  The pattern changes as the mind changes, yet never begins quite anew.  At first, we are not sure that we discern the pattern, but at last we see that, unknown to the weavers themselves, something has taken shape before our eyes, and that they have made something very beautiful, something which compels our understanding.  –  Earl W. Count, 4,000 Years of Christmas

The winter solstice will occur tomorrow morning at 5:30 AM GMT, which is to say tonight at 11:30 CST.  Tonight is thus the longest evening of the year (or the shortest for my readers in the Southern Hemisphere) and tomorrow the first day of astronomical winter (summer for y’all Down Under).  Alas, our autumn here was quite short this year; the summer outstayed his welcome by several weeks and the winter arrived rudely early, and we’ve already had snow several times (though none of it accumulated, so it looks like we won’t have a white Christmas here).  One year ago today I published a column explaining the reason nearly every culture celebrates a major holiday around this time of year, and including an essay by my friend JustStarshine explaining the spiritual significance of this day for pagans.  But so extensive is the lore around Yule (under its multiplicity of names) that I also included information about it in a number of other columns, including those for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, Twelfth Night and King Day (the last of which is celebrated as Christmas Eve by my Russian and Ethiopian readers).  To understand why the latter is so (it’s also the same reason our big solstice festival is celebrated about three days after the solstice) you’ll need to read last year’s Christmas column, linked above.  And if you do live in the antipodes, you might even be interested in my summer solstice column.  I’ll be frightfully busy the next few days with my holiday baking, so I may not respond to comments or emails as quickly as usual, but I’ve pre-posted my columns through the holidays so they’ll still appear about the time you’re used to seeing them every day.

I wish for my readers health, happiness and prosperity in this most joyous season and throughout the coming solar year.  Blessed Be!

Read Full Post »