Thursday, December 21, 2017

Winter Solstice

The shortest day is here. The Oak King will win the battle with the Holly King this night and the light will return, minute by minute, chasing night back to more reasonable hours.

The spirits will be roaming, too. This day, when the veil between the living and the spirit world is thinnest, the spirits will roam at will. So light your fires and keep a light burning all night to keep the creatures of darkness at bay.

Then hang your kissing ball, burn the Yule log and the remainder of last year's mistletoe in your Solstice fire, and let the merriment of this season begin in earnest!

I used to dread November and December. The short days and lack of light made me feel depressed and lethargic. Then I began learning about solstice and realized how very special this time of year is. A time of rest and renewal, a time to feel the stirring of new life even in a frozen world, a time to reflect on the past and start looking ahead once again. Now I look forward to the winter months, and enjoy every minute of the season.


I think the poet Susan Cooper says it best:

The Shortest Day 

So the shortest day came, and the year died,

And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world

Came people singing, dancing,

To drive the dark away.

They lighted candles in the winter trees;

They hung their homes with evergreen;

They burned beseeching fires all night long

To keep the year alive,

And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake

They shouted, revelling.

Through all the frosty ages you can hear them

Echoing behind us – Listen!!

All the long echoes sing the same delight,

This shortest day,

As promise wakens in the sleeping land:

They carol, fest, give thanks,

And dearly love their friends,

And hope for peace.

And so do we, here, now,

This year and every year.

Welcome Yule!!


Yes indeed! Welcome, Yule!

And fittingly, there is a carol to go with this Solstice Day:

Welcome Yule

Chorus:
Welcome Yule, welcome welcome Yule!
Welcome Yule, welcome Yule!

Welcome Yule, thou merry man!
In worship of this holy day!
Welcome Yule in good array!
Welcome Yule!

Chorus

Welcome be thou, Heaven-King!
Welcome born in first morning!
Welcome for whom we shall sing!
Welcome Yule!

Chorus

Welcome be ye, good new year!
Welcome Twelfth Day both in fere (together)!
Welcome saints loved and dear!
Welcome Yule!

Welcome be ye Candlemas!
Welcome be ye, Queen of Bliss!
Welcome both to more and less!
Welcome Yule!

Chorus

Welcome be ye that are here!
Welcome all and make good cheer!
Welcome all another year!
Welcome Yule!

Chorus

from english-heritage.org.uk

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.

5 comments:

Steve Arnold said...

Thank you, I enjoyed that post very much. Great poem, and loved the background on the solstice. I was not familiar with that.

Joy@aVintageGreen said...

Thanks Sue, your story and the poems help tomake the dark afternoons a time to celebrate the returning of the lighter days.
Joy

Granny Sue said...

Steve, thank you for your comment, and thank you for following my writings. It is good to have you here.

Granny Sue said...

Joy, I expect you Canadians know a thing or two about winter weather and the portents for what to expect!

Quinn said...

I think the more we know about trees the easier it is to see Winter as the beginning of new growth, not the end of old. Or to see the whole year as a continuous cycle. Or something. I sometimes get a wistful pang in Autumn, but it's really about how much I haven't gotten done. And as I've gotten older (and older and older), it's a brief pang. No time to waste ;)

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