Let There be Light – –

Jack’s Wednesday guest post is on time for a change – – –

As we head towards Christmas we will first of all encounter the winter solstice – the shortest day of the year. Of course that’s no coincidence as most Christian celebrations throughout the year align with pre-Christian festivals.

The solstice was celebrated as the point where the days will begin to lengthen and the next growing season could be anticipated. In Scotland the sun was encouraged through the lighting of bonfires and fire festivals. One example is the ‘burning of the clavie’ at Burghead which continues to this day. Of course the yule log is another link back to these ancient times as are the candles on the tree.

I grew up in Scotland where at this time of the year daylight doesn’t appear until ten in the morning and goes around four in the afternoon. In fact, in the northern isles of Orkney and Shetland the days are even shorter right now. There is a well-documented condition all over northern Europe called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of depression which occurs in alignment with the winter months.

Here in SW Virginia it isn’t as bad as it is further north, but as I write this it’s dull and sleeting outside and the lights in our house are on at eleven in the morning.

Many people, including myself, have been significantly restricted throughout the year by the pandemic, but we have been able to do work in our yard to keep us occupied and sane. But with the lack of daylight and the drop in temperature that is much less possible.

I never really suffered from SAD but I have to admit that on the evening of December 21st I would be cheered by burning a few yule logs in our fire pit and beginning to see the days start to lengthen again!

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