Saturday, December 20, 2008

The longest night of the year, 2008...

In the Northern Hemisphere, the Winter Solstice occurs on December 21, 2008 at 4:04 AM Pacific Standard Time. That makes tonight, December 20th the longest night of this year. Thankfully at this latitude tomorrow's daylight will be about two minutes longer.

"Yule, is when the dark half of the year relinquishes to the light half. Starting the next morning at sunrise, the sun climbs just a little higher and stays a little longer in the sky each day. Known as Solstice Night, or the longest night of the year, much celebration was to be had as the ancestors awaited the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King, the Giver of Life that warmed the frozen Earth and made her to bear forth from seeds protected through the fall and winter in her womb. Bonfires were lit in the fields, and crops and trees were "wassailed" with toasts of spiced cider."- Yule Lore

Lets take a gander at what a much more popular writer has to say on the topic;

Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening...
by Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know,
His house is in the village though.
He will not see me stopping here,
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer,
To stop without a farmhouse near,
Between the woods and frozen lake,
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake,
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep,
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

-- Robert Frost

Below: One of my rare poems embedded over a photograph I took of winter's sunrise along Toroda Creek in the Okanogan Highlands.

Double click on the image to open in a larger format;

Tomorrow we will wassail a birch log wrapped in twine and draped in green bough and red willow. Tucked under the twine will be notes of wishes, hopes & prayers for the coming year. Once the yule log is in the fire we will read the copies of the notes burned with last years log. We will toast the coming of light and longer days and later in the evening we will ignite a bonfire and enjoy it's heat in a night destined to be just two minutes shorter on each end than the previous night.
May old man winter be kind to you too...

1 comment:

Richard said...

An ancient and eternal ritual...
Many ancient peoples did more elaborate ceremonies. Some villages would extinguish all fires, except for a huge, common fire. Then each home would be emptied and cleaned. When everything was back in place, the hearth fire of each home would be re-kndled from the common fire.
Sometimes there would also be the ritual from whence we get "scape goat". Things that bothered people, petty thoughts, confessions of bad deeds--all would be stuck to, or wished upon a goat, which woujld then be chased from the community thereby carrying negative images, thoughts, deeds with it.

Solstices renew. Fires brought back the light.

It seems to work---each year, after failing light, it grows strong again.

May all things become renewed for you and those you love, my friend.