Monday, June 21, 2010

The Longest Night

Winter in Australia doesn't always bring snow flurries. Here in Melbourne we rarely see snow unless we drive to the snowfields or the alps further away. But many trees are leafless, the mornings are frosty and most people I know wouldn't want the temperatures to get any lower.

Today is the Southern Winter Solstice.  It occurs every year on June 21 when the southern hemisphere is most inclined away from the sun. The day will be the shortest of the year, and this evening we shall sleep through the longest night.

At the risk of being shunned by those who shiver through the winter, I confess I am a fan. This has a lot to do with reading in bed under heavy blankets, my love of candle light and the fun of wearing coats and boots. I have a suspicion it has a lot to do with my writing shawl too.

Many of my friends have had enough of winter already. They yearn for Spring and the promise of warmer days. Some cultures mark the winter solstice by gathering for a feast. In an attempt to shake off the winter blues, they host a celebration, and who could blame them? Good company can chase away the foulest of moods and I'm all for chocolate pudding with a good cup of coffee.

Tasmania, our most southern state, is the last stop before Antarctica. They really do celebrate the Winter Solstice there, with the Antarctic Mid Winter Festival. They even have a countdown to spring. How thoughtful to provide a party for all things winter, and hint at things to come as well.

If you long for Spring, take heart. From tomorrow, the days will only get longer. That's how God made it. Just ask my friends up in that other hemisphere. The ones enjoying the glorious sunshine and long balmy evenings.

And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years." Genesis 1:14