It’s That Magical Time of the Year

There is something in the air at this time of year.

It has nothing to do with the abundance of red and green bedecking the halls and windows of every storefront.  It has nothing to do with the jingling bells and multiple renditions of Let it Snow or Silver Bells  that play on more and more stations starting sometime before Thanksgiving. It has nothing to do with gaudy decorations that fill lawns and windows, encouraging families to hop into cars, loaded up with blankets and hot chocolate, and drive through unknown neighborhoods in search of the biggest and brightest displays. (For a lovely discussion of that nostalgic experience read Tori’s “Right Turn to Sunnyside”)

It might possibly have a little something to do with twinkle lights.

Simple Lights in a Dark Corner

I’m not talking about Christmas tree lights, which of course are the most ubiquitous form of twinkle lights at this time of year. I’m thinking about the power of twinkling lights of any type at this time of year–lights to push off the darkness, lights to guide people home, lights to give people a sense of hope. There is magic in the moment when light breaks through the darkness.

Menorah Lights in the Darkness. Photo by Sarah KramerLee (2011)

Menorah Lights in the Darkness. Photo by Sarah KramerLee (2011)

There is a reason that cultures from the beginnings of time have celebrated at this time of year. The days get shorter, the darkness encroaches. Before there was electricity, before their  light pollution brightened the skies so that we no longer can recognize true darkness this would be a time of mystery and perhaps fear.

Winter Solstice.

People might wonder if the sun would ever return and the darkness ever end. So they created celebrations and traditions to combat the darkness.

  • Romans celebrated Saturnalia, where homes were decorated with boughs of laurel and evergreen trees in honor of Saturnus, god of agriculture. “Lamps were kept burning to ward off the spirits of darkness” (all quotes from Winter Solstice: The Unconquered Sun)
  • “In pagan Scandinavia the winter festival was the yule (or juul). Great yule logs were burned, and people drank mead around the bonfires listening to minstrel-poets singing ancient legends. It was believed that the yule log had the magical effect of helping the sun to shine more brightly.”
  • Jews celebrate Hannukah, the festival of lights.
  • Diwali, a holiday associated with Hinduism, Sikhism, and Jainism is often called the Festival of Lights
  • Tazaungdaing festival is a Burmese celebration also known as the Festival of Lights

There is a reason that people celebrate light in a time of darkness. To me, the meeting of the two, light and dark hold a sense of crossing the lines into the unknown–they provide a moment of possibility.

Honoring the light

To me, candles in a window hold a sense of mystery, of magic, of hope.

This is the time of year when I feel closer to something that lies just beyond our understanding. It has nothing to do with any religious beliefs, but rather with the gathering forces of nature, where darkness meets light, cold confronts warmth, and the unknown lies just around the corner.

I’ve written before how this is the loneliest time of year sometimes. I also admit, however, that it is also the most magical. There is a sense of possibility that anything can happen in the line between darkness and light. We just need to be willing to find peace in the darkness.

“Meanwhile I am putting up more twinkle lights.” (You’ve Got Mail)

11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Andra Watkins
    Dec 04, 2012 @ 09:46:45

    I’m going to go off on a rant before my comment. I have signed up for your blog, have checked follow, have done everything I can think of to have you show up in my feed or email, and your blog still is not there. It makes me a sporadic reader, when I want to be a regular reader. I am going to try unsubscribing and resubscribing to see if that works.

    Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. There can never, ever be enough twinkle lights or candles. 🙂

    Reply

    • Lisa Wields Words
      Dec 04, 2012 @ 10:57:23

      Harrumph, perhaps that explains why my comments and numbers are dropping. Re-welcome to the blog Andra. Maybe if we both hang twinkle lights we can make the magic work and the problem will be fixed.

      Reply

  2. Julia Munroe Martin
    Dec 04, 2012 @ 09:53:32

    I love the solstice and the winter lights — whatever form they take! I love this: “It is also the most magical…It has nothing to do with any religious beliefs, but rather with the gathering forces of nature, where darkness meets light, cold confronts warmth, and the unknown lies just around the corner.” Great post, Lisa!

    Reply

  3. lisaspiral
    Dec 04, 2012 @ 14:46:14

    I agree that there is something magical about this time of the year. I also associate it with the way the starlight twinkles off the crystalline snow. (Not that we have snow this year, nor is it cold enough for it to be crystalline but hey) The air is crisp and clear and there is an abundance of “potential”. Twinkle lights too!

    Reply

  4. Victoria-writes
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 09:12:54

    I love this time of year, very magical! I hope it brings wonderful things for you!

    Reply

  5. joannevalentinesimson
    Dec 05, 2012 @ 11:04:43

    Lisa, I agree, the lights really do make the season! BTW, how did you do the snowflake effect on the blog? Is it for the holiday season? A couple of years ago, when I first started a blog, I posted some poetry. One of the poems was titled “Christmas Lights,” and it tried to do what your blog does better. It’s at: http://joannevalentinesimson.wordpress.com/2010/12/24/christas-lights/

    Reply

    • Lisa Wields Words
      Dec 05, 2012 @ 12:12:55

      The snow is an app that WordPress provides but I can’t remember how to add it. It’s somewhere in your settings I think. It starts on December 1st, I believe, and continues through the holidays. I’ll try to figure out how to do. I did it a long time ago, and its a nice surprise when it begins again.

      Reply

  6. Trackback: Tiny Spark Series: End Of The Rainbow « the ramblings

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