Anyone for a solstice?
I do like Christmas, despite the two-month build up, with mince pies and puddings on the supermarket shelves in September, decorations appearing in the shops from October and adverts for plastic gewgaws for children smothering the TV waves. Not to mention the food supplements exhorting us to experience a German/Scandinavian/French/Lapp/ Australian /Italian/vegan/Chinese Christmas with all the trimmings.
But at times I do feel a little weary of the whole extended palaver; an old friend lives in France, and she says that there Christmas starts on December 24th and is over by the 26th. I think that is more like what used to happen here, and can’t quite work out when it turned into a 50-day jamboree with people singing carols in November.
I was wondering whether next year we could have a break from Christmas and adopt a slightly different focus by celebrating the winter solstice on December 21st instead. We all admit that the whole Christmas shebang has degenerated into a retail extravaganza that has very little do to with commemorating the birth of one of the world’s major religions. So why not take the attention temporarily away from the Nativity and have little replicas of Stonehenge in our homes instead of Christmas trees? Solstice literally means the sun standing still, so at the precise time on the 21st, and for your information this year in the northern hemisphere it is at 16.28 GMT , the sun will have reached its southernmost position. Instead of toasting the Queen’s speech, we could all stand still to attention, saluting this moment when winter officially begins, but equally marking the shortest day and welcoming the trend back to longer days and shorter nights.
So we’d still have an early winter knees-up, but with a different theme. Instead of dressing up in onesies of dubious taste, why not drape ourselves in Druid robes? The hardy ones could indeed still take themselves off to the Standing Stones, but we mere mortals could stay at home and have a Druid feast of plants and herbs. A brief investigation into Druid diets suggests a celebratory meal that is much lighter on the system than turkey and Christmas pudding.
Another plus factor would be that absolutely everyone could join in, whatever their personal religious persuasion. This is a festival based on scientific fact, not a belief system shared by one sector of the population but derided by another. And if your religion prohibits the donning of Druid clothing, that is fine too – it doesn’t stop you celebrating the reality of the solstice.
I’m well aware that the likelihood of this idea becoming reality is less than zero, so I’m off to sing carols, post the last few Christmas cards and wrap some more presents.