Midwinter and the Solstice

The snow is thick and heavy and continues to fall in fat, clumping flakes, blotting out the high rises and hiding the city. The sound of shovels scraping and snow blowers and the shouts of men from their trucks cut through the night, intruding on quiet families huddled around books, around flickering screens, around fires and around the twinkling fairy lights of winter.

It is the night before the solstice, dark and stretching through the hours, with morning a long, long way off.

Holly and evergreen boughs and fragrant fruit adorn the surfaces, here and there, vestiges of ancient traditions which have somehow survived until now. Who decides what is passed on, and what forgotten? Which traditions have been lost to time?

Tomorrow night, to celebrate Midwinter, the Solstice, we will go out into the night, to the brightly lit city skating rink in the centre of a park of twinkling trees. And with the others who spill out across snow drifts and windy streets, we will twirl and laugh and banish the darkness and celebrate this one, long night, the longest of the year, amid the pinks and blues and greens that cut at the lingering, stretching darkness, embodying the light that is missing, the light which will return.

The celebrations last several days and nights, encompassing Christmas and New Years and Epiphany and Women’s Christmas or Little Christmas, an a host of other celebrations, depending on one’s traditions and beliefs and culture.

And then? And then, the snow will continue and winter will whistle and whirl and the grey will still cover and flood the northern world. But the nights will begin to shorten and winter festivals will provide excuses to get out, to celebrate winter, to gather and press up against bonfires on the snow, drink warm drinks, ski and skate and sled and stand, tongues hanging out, faces to the sky, to catch snowflakes tasting of endless childhoods and starry heavens and ice and clouds.

6 thoughts on “Midwinter and the Solstice

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