We associate winter possibly with snow and Christmas, though many people throughout the world also celebrate the winter solstice. I certainly have.
What is the solstice you ask? Though commonly referred to as winter solstice, at least in the northern hemisphere, it is known for the shortest day of the year and the longest night; it is opposite in the southern hemisphere where they experience the longest day and the shortest night as they are experiencing summer solstice! (
Did you know that the solstice is actually not the whole day, but actually at a specific point in time? For us here in Vancouver, British Columbia, it was 3:03 pm (or 1503 hrs) when "old man winter" finally arrived.
For the past approximately 15 years, I have participated and volunteered at a community event marking the winter solstice. Jerry DesVoignes, chantmaster leads community gatherings of chants and songs, including those that mark the shortest day of the year and the return of the light.
I actually got hooked (for lack of a better term) when I attend my first such event the same year, 1997, when both Princess Diana and Mother Teresa died: two bright lights snuffed out within a week apart.
It was a fun and also a magical experience due to a ritual - Aarti ( - and rose petals showered upon people, usually their heads. (You can see why I got hooked.) ;)
Unfortunately at this time, I do not have any pictures to show of the beautiful altar that is created with candles, flowers, and symbols. However, you can get a taste of one of Jerry's chants here below at about the 5:25 time mark...you can hear some of his vocal range - I believe he has an eight-octave range - as he starts to tone at the 4:15 time mark:
Do you celebrate the solstice and if so, how?
This past week I attended a concert by Winter Harp, a group of musicians/performers who play various harps. flutes, and other ancient instruments. Here is a video of some of them playing "O Come, O Come Emmanuel."
Or how about this one, where some other members play, "Girl in the Red Skirt" a flamenco tune.
Have you seen any Christmas concerts this year, and if so, which ones or what kinds?