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Today light returns. It’s about darned time.

But, sez John Wilder in his inimitably irreverent way, it’s not the solstice we’re really celebrating. It’s the cold months to come, because they make us stronger.

Christmas? I’m a fan.

But the 21st is also notable because it’s the (traditional) feast time of the northern peoples of the world, and you can see multiple cultures built physical devices to track the solstice, places like Newgrange in Ireland, Stonehenge in England and the High Bank Works at Chillicothe in North America.

And, my house. …

But the solstice doesn’t represent the coldest part of the winter. The coldest part is yet to come as the Arctic air blasts down from the north in January and February. And before it gets cold, the choice had to be made: feed all of your cattle through the winter, or have a really big drunken party and a bonfire after turning a few of the cattle into ribeyes? …

Winter is about deprivation and hardship, which might just be the greatest teacher …

Gotta go read the thing to see what he’s getting at.


  1. ellendra
    ellendra December 21, 2018 10:06 am

    Another reason for the feast timing: I’ve noticed that when I have a ton of long-keeping produce like squash or potatoes, they seem to go in waves. When one isn’t going to keep much longer, there are usually warning signs telling me to use it soon or lose it. The timing on when a bunch of them show those warning signs often corresponds to traditional feasts or rituals.

    For example, the year I harvested over 60 squash, I had 8 of them start to soften right around Thanksgiving. Another dozen started to soften in the middle of December. Etc. That’s not including the ones that were damaged and had to be used right away (right near the autumn equinox).

    I’m pretty sure some of those ancient feasts started out as a way to use up anything that wasn’t going to keep.

  2. James
    James December 21, 2018 1:37 pm

    Agreed, Ellendra. I think there’s very seldom just one single reason for anything that lots of people do.

  3. Jorge
    Jorge December 21, 2018 2:59 pm

    Happy holidays Claire and too all others as well. I hope 2019 is healthy, happy, prosperous and freer for all of us.

  4. John Wilder
    John Wilder December 21, 2018 8:54 pm

    Thanks so much, it means a lot! I’ve been reading your stuff for years – Backwoods, etc.

  5. Claire
    Claire December 22, 2018 5:55 am

    Hi, John Wilder. And thank you. I’ve been reading your stuff for only a week (after one of the blog Commentariat members linked to one of your recent pieces). But I love it! Great combo of smarts and charming irreverence. Your blog is now in my Feedly and on my don’t-miss list.

  6. James
    James December 22, 2018 7:09 am

    I really enjoyed that, too. Bookmark added. This-here internet: so much to read, and I can’t seem to get through it. I make some progress one day, only to find the next morning that most of it changed! I’m never going to get it all read.

  7. John Wilder
    John Wilder December 24, 2018 1:51 am

    Merry Christmas, Claire!

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