Winter Solstice: an evocative poem

Tonight we will  flick drops of malt whisky onto our fully lit and decorated tree on the night of the Winter Solstice. Midwinter magic has returned!We do this every year – and every year I remind family members present for the ritual that this tree has a very ancient pedigree. Looking for a poem which captures both the feeling and the history, I found this one to share with you, wherever you are this night:

Ancient Akkadians honouring their Tree of Life
Ancient Akkadians honouring their Tree of Life

The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper

So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!


200 words copyright Anne Whitaker/Susan Cooper 2013

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page



5 thoughts on “Winter Solstice: an evocative poem

  1. What a wonderful Winter Solstice poem, Anne–one to add to my collection as a reading for a future ceremony with my Solsisters ritual group. And I love the header with the falling snow. Coming to your site today is the perfect Winter Solstice celebration. Thank you!

  2. What a wonderful poem – even though I missed it on the Solstice. I do love the traditions of the season, particularly the tree, the yule log and the mistletoe. I’ve been listening to some of the ancient carols, too – they’re wonderfully different from most of the commercially popular today.

    1. Yes, it’s a real find! It’s been read by lots of people, but it’s lovely that you have stopped by to comment. I read the poem to our tree before my husband sprinkled the malt whisky!

      It is good to remind ourselves that we post, post modern folk belong in our deep soul roots, to very ancient traditions. I’m reflecting on what my Festive greeting is to be this year….hope inspiration strikes before tomorrow evening!

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