The Winter Solstice falls on a Saturday this year, and my family is celebrating. We have slowly eased into this holiday over the past five years or so, tentatively testing our traditional toes in the frigid waters of pre-Christian customs. Trying to avoid the scary “P” word for festivities modified and then condemned by more modern religions, we challenge that it is the longest night of the year. Why not whoop it up as our version of whistling in the dark?
These earth-based rituals are fodder for a pyromaniac’s dream: We assemble all the candles, light a fire in the fireplace and cook up a storm, roasting and boiling and braising to our heart’s content, emulating the glowing orb in the sky that shines down so infrequently where we live on this side of the planet.
And the noise we make would put Whoville post-Grinch-burglery to shame, much pan banging and singing and noisy call for the light’s return. Because there is a small part of us that shrinks when nightfall edges ever farther into daytime’s territory. Even though the infraction is measured by a mere collection of seconds, our soul feels the weight and regrets all the smug assumptions we’ve committed this year, and the simple pleasures we’ve taken for granted. After all, there is a first time for everything.
Including the rebirth of the Sun.