Humans have been aware of the winter solstice since at least the stone age and built monuments, like Stonehenge, designed to align with the solstice sunrise and sunset. There’s something about this particular time of the year, when day is shortest and night is longest, that brings out feelings of despair and, strangely enough, celebration.
Why celebrate the darkest and coldest time of year? Maybe because that is when celebration is most needed. Charles Dickens may have said it best, in his A Christmas Carol, as a gentleman asks Ebeneezer Scrooge for a charitable donation:
“A few of us are endeavoring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices.”
In The Bleak Midwinter is a Christmas carol based on a poem written by Christina Rossetti in 1872. In 1906, it was put to music by Gustav Holst. This performance by Julie Andrews is from 1973.
|Christina Rossetti – portrait by her brother|