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This Friday, December 21st, is the Winter Solstice—the shortest day of the year; the first official day of Winter; Yule. The days, which have been getting shorter and shorter each day since the Summer Solstice, now will begin getting longer by a minute or two each day.
Many cultures around the world have celebrated the Winter Solstice. In Ireland, dozens of people selected by a lottery are invited to the Newgrange Monument to watch the sunrise on the Winter Solstice. Newgrange is a Stone Age monument that has a special chamber aligned with the sun as it rises on the Solstice. At dawn, the chamber is filled with sunlight for about 17 minutes. More than thirty thousand people apply for a spot every year, but only 60 are chosen.
In Japan, the Winter Solstice tradition is to start the New Year in a warm bath filled with a citrus fruit called yuzu—which is supposed to help keep you healthy.
Over in England, of course, thousands of people gather at Stonehenge to welcome the Solstice or in the town of Brighton, where people parade with hand-made lanterns that are then burned in a huge bonfire by the sea.
In Scandinavia, the Feast of Juul is held on the Winter Solstice, with bonfires to celebrate the light and warmth of the returning sun.
Here, in America, it’s pretty much business as usual, except for people like me. I can’t wait for long warm days to go outside and play in my garden again.
In the meantime, I have my collection of houseplants to satisfy the gardener in me. And, in a couple of weeks when I bring the first of my amaryllis out of dormancy, I’ll have them to watch.
And, of course, right now with 2022 dated seeds here, I can feed the gardener in me by reading seed packets and picking out my favorites.
Come on by so you can be among the first to shop for those seeds that will grow into flowers and veggies you can enjoy through spring and summer.