Today is the winter solstice, the day the Northern Hemisphere is the furthest from the sun. It is the shortest day of the year. I don’t know anyone who loves the early darkness this time of year. The good news is that starting today, the days will begin to get longer again.
The winter solstice was celebrated by ancient druids and pagans, who marked both the shortest day of the year and the rebirth of the sun. They decorated trees, burned Yule logs and offered gifts to the Gods. If that sounds a bit like Christmas, it is not a coincidence. Early Christian leaders incorporated pagan rituals in order to bring people into the Christian faith.
This morning, people gathered at Stonehenge in England to celebrate the winter solstice with song and dance. It is a way to reconcile the cold and dark of winter and the coming of more light and longer days. Last week I wrote about hygge, the Danish concept that means warmth, security, comfort and coziness. This, too, is a way to celebrate the winter, to be warm and content in a season of darkness.
Christmas is this week, and I have another great tradition for you, another way to celebrate the cold, dark days of winter. A friend sent me this one, which is from Iceland: JÓLABÓKAFLÓD.
It means book flood. In Iceland, books are exchanged on Christmas Eve. Then people retire for the evening with a cup of cocoa and read.
I think it is perfect.
This Christmas, I wish you a book flood. We who love reading are never bored, and open to all of the new adventures and new learning that we discover along the way. It is a good way to go through the darkness of winter, and a good way to go through life.
Happy Christmas my friends, and happy reading,