Today, in Ireland, a bunch of men caught a wren and killed the poor bird.  They then took to the streets, and are now running around, going door to door, wearing goofy clothes and playing the fiddle and the tin whistle.  They are singing, dancing, and drinking.

In Greece, temples dedicated to Saturn are festooned with decorations.  Statues of Saturn, once bound with ropes, are set free.

In Sweden, chosen girls are temporarily renamed “Lucia,” dressed in white gowns with a red sash, and adorned with crowns.  The Lucia travel door to door, with candles, and hand out pastries to children.

In Kurdistan, families are getting together for feasts, and giving treats to children.  They are celebrating the victory of light over darkness, of the longest night of the year giving way to the ever increasing day.

In Egypt, constructed along the solar axis, the temple of Karnak can be seen giving birth to the sun, a womb for light.  The temple is gradually roused from its sleep of darkness, as the sun god awakens the earth.

In outerspace, as the earth orbits the sun, the axial tilt of the north pole is at its greatest degree, furthest away from the sun as it will ever be.

In Islip, a young man with a paintbrush, trying desperately to finish a portrait commission by Christmas, is looking out the dark window and muttering angrily beneath his breath.  And then he remembers that today is the winter solstice, and that the days will finally get longer so that he can paint more.  In the age of incadescent, xenon, halogen, LED, mercury vapor, self ballasted mercury bulbs… it’s kind of nice to be a painter, and be so connected to the rhythms of nature.

All solstice things considered, though the Egyptians might have the coolest temple, and the Greeks might have the best statues, and the Swedes might have the best pastries, and the Kurds might have the best hummus… the Irish have the best song.  And fittingly, our food is awful.

Click the following to hear The Chieftainsperform:

17 The Wren In The Furze


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