Winter Solstice Greetings!

On this shortest day and longest night of the year, especially in my native northern clime, I must honor ancient traditions and celebrate the turning of the Great Wheel. And return of the light!

NOTE: I’ll continue the blog series on my return to Crete next Saturday, with a visit to ancient Roman Gortys and arrival in Heraklion.

Long before Christmas celebrations stepped in to absorb pagan festivals of winter solstice, Europeans from Greece on up into Nordic lands honored their deities of winter and petitioned with ceremonies the return of the sun and longer days. Here in the Pacific Northwest, in the “far corner” of the western U.S., we hunker down during the gloomy days when sunset arrives at 4:00 pm, and rain clouds make it dark even during the short days. “Forest bathing” helps me stay grounded, but more light would help!

It’s no accident that Europeans from earliest times, especially those in northern latitudes, developed rituals and celebrations to lighten the gloom and bring back the sun and essential fertility of the earth. I make a practice of lighting candles on my garden shrines to honor the nature spirits, along with modern holiday lights festooning the house to brighten our moods.

Because our Book View Cafe website server at this point may not handle many photos, I’m posting my complete blog entries on my own author website at, where you can finish this episode and enjoy all the accompanying photos. Please continue reading by clicking on the link below, then you can return here (use “go back” arrow above) to comment, ask questions, or join a conversation. We love your responses!


You will find The Rambling Writer’s blog posts here every Saturday. Sara’s latest novel from Book View Cafe is available in print and ebook: The Ariadne Connection.  It’s a near-future thriller set in the Greek islands. “Technology triggers a deadly new plague. Can a healer find the cure?”  The novel has received the Chanticleer Global Thriller Grand Prize and the Cygnus Award for Speculative Fiction. Sara has recently returned from another research trip in Greece and is back at work on the sequel, The Ariadne Disconnect. Sign up for her quarterly email newsletter at




Winter Solstice Greetings! — 11 Comments

  1. Down here I sigh, because it means the long, LONG, dreary choking dry (or humid-without-rain) summer is imminent. I love autumn with each day shorter, but I seem to be pretty much alone in that! (And late June, when the punishing sun begins its retreat, is always a relief.)

    • I loved autumn when I lived in Washington, DC. It’s the only decent season there — not hot and rarely cold, though occasionally wet. The trees change.

      But here in the Bay Area autumn is still fire season and therefore scary until we get good rain. And I do hate the short days. I need my sunshine. Fortunately, we get a lot of it here in the East Bay, but are close enough to the ocean to keep it from being hot as well. I find that the perfect compromise.

      Happy Solstice to all.

  2. One Celtic tradition I especially like: Tonight I’ll take a big fat candle and stand in a window that faces west. At the moment the sun drops below the horizon I light the candle, capturing a bit of the sun in the flame, and murmur whatever invocation is in my heart. Then I carry the candle to an east facing window. I don’t stand vigil all night but the ancients did. Then tomorrow morning after the longest night of the year I will watch and at the moment of sunrise blow out the candle to give that bit of flame back to the sun, having guarded it all night.

    Thanks to Alexander James Adams for that tradition.

  3. Loved your thoughtful blog article! As part of our own ritual (our second year) Susan and I will attend a winter solstice party tonight at Cascade Lake. There, in the black of night, assembled Orcas Islanders will tend a big bonfire, and eat and drink like there’s no tomorrow. But, there will be a tomorrow. Tomorrow will be 1 second longer than today (you can look it up), and we’ll be heading toward the light of spring!