Tuesday, 18 December 2012

A Steady Light

Midwinter Solstice is a scary time. If you took away our electric lights, a cloudy English night at midwinter would be a long, dark, waiting time. And a couple of thousand years ago, with wolves still around, the need would be strong to huddle round the fire, singing brave songs and waiting for the light to come back.

Every year, the days shortened. The fear might be - this year, the sun won't come back. Maybe the nights will get darker until there's nothing left.

And so light festivals clustered around the solstice. The fettered gods of the earth cried "let there be light". And wicker men, pitch torches, bonfires and the odd tree would be lit as signs of hope and defiance.

Came the time when the date of Christmas was set - there are various theories as to why it was 25 December, and frankly none of them matter. But at the darkest time, a light shines out.

Today we light candles, tree-lights, dancing snowmen and singing, ringing trees. It's a funny thing to consider, but the bloke who climbs a ladder and puts an illuminated, dancing Father Christmas on his roof to make the kids happy, is in a direct line from the Beaker People of the Neolithic, who lined up their monument on the midwinter solstice sunset, fearfully watched the Sun set, prayed it would come back in the morning and lit a bonfire to encourage it.
Some typical bling. Not in Husborne Crawley.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not understood it. Maybe sometimes even those that kindled the light didn't understand it, either. But it shines nonetheless.


  1. Bless you. Yes, let there be Light!

  2. Just goes to show how important perspective is, I bet all the nocturnal species (in the Northern hemisphere) see this completely differently, they're all hoping the darkness returns... although I wish someone would shed some light on my Amazon delivery ;)


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