Today is one of those special days that often gets lost in the hustle of the holidays, but it’s nice to pause on what is the shortest day and the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. It reminds me of the many lovely winter solstice celebrations that my son’s piano teacher and her charming German husband Ewold held in their home. We were a part of these recitals for many years and what great memories. After the kid’s pieces were played they served homemade stollen, punch and Evold would read a poem aloud. It was such a simple gathering yet heartfelt and made one feel these are the things that matter.
The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper is so moving and Ewold made it really come alive the way he read it. It evokes a feeling of being part of something so ancient- the passage of time, seasons and the gathering together with dear ones at the year’s end. It’s magical to me and should be read at a party of friends or family. Instead of enduring these dark short days perhaps we should revel in the closing of a year and look forward to a new one.
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, reveling.
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, feast, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.