Saturday, December 20, 2008

Happy Winter Solstice!

Winter Solsctice celebrates the shortest day of the year, and we had a big celebration at the Nature Center. It was a busy day getting ready, and teaching people how to make lanterns. When it got dark, I was asked to lead the lantern parade down the trail to a great bonfire, where we sang songs, and roasted marshmallows and hot dogs. I did not get any official count, but we probably had around 150 people, which is a lot for our little Nature Center.

After 2 am tonight, our days will be getting longer again, YEAH!!!
The picture above was not taken today, but rather one month ago: one of the last times I saw the sun from our house shining through that notch -- since Thanksgiving the sun has been hiding behind those mountains. Around January 15th it will start shining through that notch again -- can't wait!!!

So for many thousands of years, people of the Northern latitudes have celebrated the return of the sun with special ceremonies: the Christmas tree tradition is one of them. Ours is looking festive, with all the lights and ornaments, and, in a rather unique touch dating from the Prof's college days: the Pink Panther with angel wings sits on top!

Here's a very German Christmas item that I brought into the family: the Rauchermaennchen (Smoking Man). He's basically an incence burner, and I inherited him from my maternal grandfather -- can you see the smoke coming out of his mouth?

The other incence burner, the Skihuette (Ski hut), I bought for my husband when we moved here: the smoke comes out of the chimney. When we burn "Tannenduft", it smells like Weihnachten in the Old Country to me!
Isn't it interesting how smells can elicit some of the oldest memories -- the smell of Frankencense incense (Weihrauch) will instantly take me back to being a child in church at High Mass on Christmas Eve.

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