Monday, December 19, 2011

The Season of The Long Nights

The end of December is rolling around again and that means it’s time to remind you how far north I am.
The answer is, quite far.
If you live in North America, unless you’re currently driving up the Trans-Labrador Highway on your way to Chimney Tickle, you’re not experiencing nights quite as long as we are these days.  And keep in mind, I’m in southern England; the people up in Inverness will have even more daylight shaved off of their 24-hour allotment.

For those of you who didn't pay attention in Earth Science
The good news—and the reason I’m reminding everyone of this—is that we’re just about over the hump.  The longest night is coming up and after that, it’s all sunshine and roses.
Well, after a few months, anyway.

This is what noon looks like right now; that’s as
high as the sun gets, and it sets quickly.
The Long Nights here in the north are what gave rise to a lot of our Christmas traditions, such as the Yule log, Wassailing (you have been out a-wassailing at least a couple of times this year, haven’t you?), holly wreaths, mistletoe, decorative lights, feasting and generally being as drunk as you can be at all times.
And it has also given rise to newer traditions, such as enduring a night of freezing cold for the off-chance of seeing a sunrise at Stonehenge (A clear day?  In Britain?  In the winter?  The odds are not good.).  This is becoming an increasingly popular activity among those who happen to own Druid robes and warm, woolen socks.  They claim to be re-enacting an ancient Druid tradition even though there is no real evidence that the ancient Druids did this or that the solstice at Stonehenge has any sort of significance.

Latter day muppets.
Still, it’s a great excuse to dress up, get drunk, party through the night and celebrate the dawn, which is, of course what it is all about; a sort of holding up of two fingers to the winter and welcoming in the spring.
And if, by some miracle, you actually get to see the sunrise, I expect it would be very pretty.

Sunrise at Stonehenge

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