Just a bit more than an hour ago, we marked what, for me, is the best of the winter holidays. Yes, this time of year, Christmas gets top billing. That said, the Winter solstice has long been the mark on the wall that my eyes turn to as the sunlight dwindles and the cold seeps into my bones.
Long before Christianity, the darkest days of the year were marked by the solstice – the sure sign that even in the depths of Winter, warmth, growth would return as the days now grow ever so slightly longer. Whether that was celebrated as the solstice, as Saturnalia, as Yule, or feasting for Sol Invictus, Western Civilization has scattered a great many major celebrations here around the point of the year when we face the shortest days and the harshest weather.
I’m hardly a religious scholar, but it doesn’t feel particularly coincidental. While my devoted Christian friends will wait a few days more for their big day, I’ll burn my candle tonight and wish you all a very happy solstice.
I’m not fool enough to think Winter is over, but it’s at least the end of the beginning. Now if I can avoid freezing to death when the temperatures drop into the single digits over the next couple of days, we’ll be all set. At least, unlike our heathen forbearers, I don’t have to worry about my larder running short before the harvest comes in. So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.