Winter is approaching. Wait, did you think that it was already here? Not yet, even if it is cold. This year, winter arrives in the Northern Hemisphere on December 21st or 22nd, depending on where you live.
Technically, the winter solstice is just one brief moment in time. It is the time at which your particular part of the earth is tilted as far from the sun as it will get. While that just lasts a moment, the day on which this occurs is sometimes also called solstice, since it is the day on which night is the longest and light is the shortest. After another six months, the earth will have made its way around so that the part of the earth that was tilting farthest from the sun will now be closest to the sun. Then, it is summer solstice.
Now, that’s an awfully long and scientific explanation, and what I’d really like to talk about is books. You see, there are not that many books that discuss the winter solstice.
One of my favorite solstice books is Dear Rebecca, Winter is Here. In this book, Jean Craighead George writes a letter to her granddaughter, a letter about all of the wonders of winter and summer. She describes how winter begins in the summer, when the days begin to get shorter. Even though children are cooling off under the sprinklers, the days are gradually creeping closer to winter solstice. At the moment of winter solstice, light begins to come back. While this might seem counterintuitive, winter solstice is a time to think about brighter days ahead.
The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice by Wendy Pfeffer describes the technical details of winter solstice. It also describes how the return of lighter days is celebrated by people around the world.
My personal favorite out of my winter book collection is not truly a winter solstice book, but I read it on the solstice every year. It’s The Tomten by Astrid Lindgren. This is a book about a little creature who cares for the animals on an old farm. As he greets each of them in the winter’s cold, he talks about how spring and summer will come soon. To me, this book captures the essence of solstice time, the hope of a new and brighter spring.
What do you read this time of the year?
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