Dreaming of A White Solstice
Just like the ones I used to know...
Fresh snow makes Winter much more bearable, because at least it looks pretty. Plus, the holiday lights seem to sparkle brighter against contrast of a black sky and white ground.
If it’s going to be cold, I want snow on the ground. I want tiny, perfect crystal flakes falling gently from the sky around the clock. And for it to stay pristine once on the ground. And if I’m celebrating the Winter solstice, I’m going to need a powdery blanket of snow enhancing the landscape. I don’t think it’s too much to ask!
The Winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere is upon us — tomorrow to be exact. On Wednesday December 21, at 21:48 (according to Wikipedia, that is) we bid autumn ado and usher in the winter season. Even though it’s been snowing on and off where I live for the past week and the pumpkin decor has long since been put back in storage, it’s still considered a turning point for us northern folk.
A quick, very brief history lesson: the Winter solstice has long been honored dating back to pre-historic times. Many cultures like Neolithic Europe (Stonehenge), Germanic (Yule), and Iranian (Yaldā Night) to name a few, have long celebrated this turning point of the earth’s orbit with festivals and rituals. Many countries/cultures have their own special traditions for the Winter solstice but it mostly revolves around one thing: “the Shortest day; the Longest night.” When the Earth’s tilt is at its farthest from that giant, life-bringing gas ball (AKA, the Sun). (The Wikipedia entry has a lot more, so start there to learn more!)
“The Shortest day; the Longest night.”
“A symbolic death and rebirth of the Sun.”
When I was younger, the solstice felt different. Maybe because I was a kid and there was a certain “magic glow” about the season, or maybe because I was raised Catholic and my family celebrated a lot of the traditions, like being dragged to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. (More on that part of my life another time…) The season began with parties, songs, and presents for everyone. It was bone-chilling cold. And snow was everywhere (most years, anyway).
I grew up in a rural area, halfway between two very tiny towns — when it snowed, it was a different kind of silent night. Crisp air filled our lungs on walks around the pond or along the wooded paths. Bare, glistening white-covered cornfields illuminated by the moon go on for miles. The stars pierced through the black sky.
On the solstice, I would look through my bedroom window and see one flashing red light from the next town over — an older cousin told me it was Rudolph, guiding Santa’s sleigh through the falling snow. Such a magical feeling!
Nowadays, that same rural landscape is dotted with red flashing lights of the wind turbines and we’re lucky if the snow falls on Christmas Eve/Day.
I still quietly will for the snow to fall during this time of year because, to me, it truly completes the cozy holiday feeling. But that’s all it is — a feeling. It can be recreated no matter where you are or how you celebrate this occasion. You can even start a new tradition if you’re so inclined! Because the solstice is a time to celebrate. To say farewell to short, darkened days and eat delicious food, exchange gifts, and share time with each other. To watch an abundance of holiday movies and sleep in or be lazy by a fire, basking in the glow of the twinkling tree. To sip cocoa or coffee with an excessive amount of peppermint, sprinkled upon the floating mountain of whipped cream.
However you celebrate, may your holidays be merry and bright, and may the magical feeling of the solstice keep you warm through the darkest days of the season.
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