The Winter Solstice is the moment when the Earth is furthest from the sun. The shortest day & the longest night of the year. For the first time in almost 400 years, the solstice has coincided with a Lunar eclipse, which is why I was out in the -9 temperatures wearing every woollen item I owned at stupid o'clock in the morning and watching the horizon turn from inky black to wine red (either one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen, or a harbinger of the apocalypse*).
When the sun came up, the fruit trees in the garden were blessed with cider (which they were kind enough to share) and honey biscuits (which the birds are currently devouring). When I'm done writing here, I'll go light the fire, and there will be a light burning until dawn tomorrow, when the days will start to grow longer, and spring will start to seem less like an old folk tale and more of a possibility.
The house is decorated with evergreen leaves & red ribbons, and there's an evening of eating, drinking & gift giving ahead. Tomorrow will be the start of a new year.
So to all you people out there, friends & strangers, whatever winter festivals you celebrate, may the coming year bring good health, more laughter than tears & love in all its forms.
*At least when Azathoth & His Pennywhistle Of Chaos comes to play us to our suitably gruesome end, there will be pretty lights.