Saturday, December 21, 2013


This is the season of darkness.

Today is the Winter Solstice, the first official day of winter--the shortest day, the darkest day -- and the longest and darkest night of the year.

Today as I was out driving to the mall, indeed,  it was the darkest day I remember in a long time.
The black clouds hung low  in the sky,  moving rapidly, overshadowing any tiny glimmer of light trying to peek through.
The dark clouds and the heavy rain made me long for light.

The dark has engulfed us, literally, as we wait for light to return.

Winter Solstice celebrates the return of the sun, the return of light.
Beginning tomorrow night,  each night will be a bit shorter, less dark.
There will be a bit more light.

This is the season of light.

No matter who you are and how you worship, no matter what your beliefs about God, the world, and our place in it--- this is the season of lights.

Many cultures and religions celebrate the coming light,  the return of light, and light overcoming darkness.

Lighting fires, candles, and more recently, artificial lights, are associated with seasonal  celebrations.

Our neighborhoods are a delight to drive through during this season.  We are thrilled by the lights that create designs in the dark.

Winter Lights: A Season in Poems & Quilts by Anna Grossnickle Hines is one of my favorite books to share during this time. With rich poems and divinely beautiful quilts, Hines celebrates many  festivals of lights, including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the Chinese New Year and more.

I was delighted to see a new book this year that also celebrates the winter holidays around the world. Lights of Winter: Winter Celebrations around the World features a multitude of light festivals accompanied by colorful illustrations. Although the illustrations are wonderful, both the amount of information and the accuracy of some facts, have received mixed reviews. For example, one reviewer on Amazon noted that in the book Kwanzaa colors are represented as deriving from the African Flag--there is no one African flag. This book may represent an opportunity to practice critical literacy.

 The return of light is not just anticipated by humans.  The animal world  and all of nature live through this natural cycle of dark and light, cold and warm. The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice by Wendy Pfeffer reminds us of how the loss, and subsequent return, of light affects not only us, but the animal world, as well.

The Return of the Light: Twelve Tales from Around the World for the Winter Solstice by Carolyn McVickar Edwards offers tales to be shared on Winter Solstice- or anytime you choose.  Whether the light or sun has been stolen, surrendered or gifted, each tale celebrates its return. Enjoy these tales by candle light.  The back matter includes games and celebrations appropriate for this special  day and season.

 The Writer's Almanac also recognized Winter Solstice today by including information about the day and its origin and also a poem, Christmas Light by May Sarton.

This is the season of darkness.
This is the season of light.

Today's Deeper Writing Possibilities

What does darkness represent to you? 
What does light represent to you?

How do nature and this season of winter relate to your thoughts and feelings about both darkness and light?

Write an essay about darkness and light.  
Write a poem celebrating the return of light.

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