Note: I’m running an encore blog post while I catch up with family and friends over the holidays. Earlier versions of this post appeared in the AKRWA blog and this blog.
To Alaskans, solstice is a big day. Our lives revolve around the environment, including the changes in weather and daylight. We notice how much sunlight we gain or lose each day. We celebrate the longest day of the year. My daughter even had her wedding on summer solstice. On the shortest day of the year, we pause, then look forward to the return of sunlight.
People have been observing winter solstice since Neolithic times. You’ve probably read about the history before, so I’ll be brief here. The Saami, the Romans, and the Celts had midwinter festivals that led to many of our winter solstice and Christmas traditions. There are also traditional celebrations on or near winter solstice in Pakistan, East Asia, and Mali, just to name a few. Many of us recognize it as a time of rebirth and renewal, or welcome good luck into our houses at this time.
The short days give Alaskans an excuse to stay inside and cuddle up in front of the fire. Some of us do extra reading or other indoor activities. I tend to write more in the wintertime. Winter solstice is a good time to reflect, think about the past year and make plans about the future. While I’m not thrilled with cold weather, I do like the opportunity to wrap up the year and acknowledge my loved ones.
We often attend or host winter solstice parties on December 21st. We’ll celebrate with family, friends, good food and drink. To all of you: good wishes, wassail, and hoping you have a great winter solstice, however you celebrate this time of year!