The creeping darkness will end this evening at 9:19 pm MT. “Creeping darkness” is a phrase I created, which is probably why you haven’t heard of it before. I have a hard time with this time of year and the way the darkness comes earlier and earlier, stealing light from my days, and so “end of the creeping darkness” seems a perfect name for this particular event. The correct term, of course, is “winter solstice.”
“Solstice” comes from two Latin words, sol meaning “sun” and sistere meaning “stationary” because on this day, in the northern hemisphere, the sun seems to stand still, as if garnering it’s strength to fight back the darkness.
Technically, the winter solstice marks the moment when there is a 23.5-degree tilt in Earth’s axis and the North Pole is at its furthest point from the sun — from here on, the days will get longer, gaining us an additional 6 and 1/2 hours of sunlight per day by June 21st when the days begin to get shorter again. (This is reversed in the southern hemisphere, so today those down under will be celebrating their summer solstice.)
Though neo-pagans have claimed the solstice for their own, this is one of those natural holidays (holy days) that we all should be celebrating. The end of the lengthening nights. The triumph of light over darkness. We don’t even need the metaphors of light=good and dark=bad to find reason to celebrate this day. It’s simply a day of stillness, of hope. A day to give thanks for the promise that even in our darkest hour, light will return.
My celebration will be simple. I’ll turn on my bowls of light and go outside to toast the pale winter sun with sparking cider. Technically, I will be toasting the moon since the sun will have set hours before, but the sun won’t care. It will be shining brightly in the southern hemisphere, and will return to this part of globe tomorrow with greater strength.
Wishing you a bright and hopeful end of the creeping darkness.
Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.