It was beginning winter,
An in-between time,
The landscape still partly brown:
The bones of weeds kept swinging in the wind,
Above the blue snow. - Theodore Roethke, “The Lost Son”
The sun reached its southernmost point (at the Tropic of Capricorn) at 11:12 GMT today, and since that was only an hour later than my blog usually posts I couldn’t resist synchronizing the events so that this appeared at the exact moment of the solstice. Today is the first day of astronomical winter in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of summer in the Southern; it’s the day pagans call Yule, the defining event for which the various winter holidays are celebrated and thus the real “reason for the season” despite the contradictory claims of Christians. If you’re wondering why Christmas doesn’t fall exactly on the solstice any more you may be interested in reading my first Christmas column, which also explains the very dark origins of the celebration and some of the ways we still observe it (teaser: some of you may feel the subject matter is more appropriate to Halloween). Nor is that essay all I’ve written on the subject: so extensive is the lore around Yuletide that I’ve devoted quite a number of posts to it, many of which are listed and linked in my column for one year ago today.
I wish for my readers health, happiness and prosperity in this most joyous season and throughout the coming solar year. Blessed Be!