The opening lines of Nocturnal on St Lucy's Day by John Donne, actually celebrated on December 13th back in 1627 and until the calendar changed.
The shortest day for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere (we're there) the longest day to everyone else, and it is also St Thomas's Day, the day when those in need went Thomasing or 'gooding.' Not surprisingly the custom of 'gooding' would only work in small close-knit communities where the poor would tramp around the neighbourhood, calling at farms, and maybe to the Big House, with the expectation of receiving gifts of money or food in order to 'keep a good Christmas.' (Thank you Steve Roud The English Year ) Anyone who lived here, and I am sure, given that we live in two labourers' cottages, they might have been poor enough to have to do it, would have had to tramp a fair few miles in the hope.
But light for our hypothalamuses (maybe hypothalami...someone will know) is what we all really need, so it's our day to light the candles, and do so until Candlemas, because it feels like a nice way to illuminate our way ahead into the longer days, and by February 2nd we will certainly be aware of the evenings drawing out and maybe not having to walk the dogs by 4pm at the latest.
Every year I hope we might have a sunset like this one of many years ago, but until we do apologies I have to use the same picture year on year...
The woodland that we look across to from all our windows, with the sun setting right behind it. That is the furthest the setting sun will reach and now will slowly makes its way back way beyond the right of that picture as we head towards the Longest Day. It's a wonderful natural marker of the passing year which happily seems to carve itself up into the seasonal quarter days now that I have time to notice them.
And one glorious sunrise earlier this week which quite took my breath away, the village church in the distance rising up through the mist...the special light gone in an instant but wonderful while it lasted.
If you are north of the equator I hope you are finding plenty of light and bright somehow...for the rest of you basking in it, please take the hit for the team and enjoy for the rest of us.