Wednesday 21 December 2016

Christmas Countdown, Traditions and Trivia Days Twenty and Twenty One

Hello Friends!

Oooops, I did it again! I missed a day, but I had company coming and was busy fixing an early Christmas lunch for my Godmother for our annual Christmas gift exchange. It was a lot of fun, and I made a variation on the theme of Sherry Trifle using macerated strawberries and Marsala. It was very delicious and will be made again.

In the meantime, I'll do another double up, so here are the Advent images for December 20th {yesterday} and today the 21st ~~~


Today is the Winter Solstice. I look forward to this day every year because after six months of the days getting shorter and the evenings longer, tomorrow we will see the start of the long haul back into the light as each dark evening grows shorter and the light slowly returns to the northern hemisphere. Soon, the darkness will be forgotten in the heady days of late spring and early summer and all will be light.

The date of each solstice varies annually, and it can be any time between 21 and 23 of December and although the solstice itself only lasts for a brief moment, it is an important day known by many different names, including Midwinter, Yule, and Jól .  I often try to imagine what it must have been like for our ancient ancestors as they stood by, helplessly watching the sun sink slowly lower in the sky each day, as the days shortened and the nights lengthened; how frightening it must have been for them, wondering what was happening in the days before they understood that this is a natural part of the cycle of the year, of the changing seasons, and what they must have thought they had done to displease their gods.  Is it any wonder that some of the major feasts and festivals of so many religions are in December?

Food was scarce and cattle and livestock were slaughtered so that they did not have to be fed using valuable stored supplies of food through the very lean months ahead, so the supply of fresh meat was plentiful and perfect for feasts and celebrations.  Wine and beer that had been made earlier in the year was also ready to be drunk.  Let the festivities and merrymaking commence!

Our neolithic ancestors were aware of the importance of this astronomical event and it is not coincidental that the primary axes of important henges, such as Stonehenge and Newgrange are carefully aligned with the solstice sunset and sunrise respectively.

Christina Rossetti's poem {later to become a hymn, or Christmas carol} "In The Bleak Midwinter" makes a direct reference to the solstice in the title. It is a favourite of mine.

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago. 
Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ. 
Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk,
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore. 
Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air -
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss. 
What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb;
If I were a wise man
I would do my part;
Yet what I can, I give Him -
Give my heart.
The ninth Yuletide Lad to visit on the 20th December was Sausage Swiper who will be around until 2nd January.  In days of old, he would sneak into the rafters of the house and steal any sausages that were being smoked there. As this practice is very rare in most Icelandic households, these days he will attempt to steal any slices of pepperoni found on pizzas.  He might also be called Bjúgnakrækir, Sausage Snatcher, Sausage Thief, Sausage Pilferer.

On December 21, Window Peeper arrives until 3rd January.  Also known as: Gluggagægir, Peeper, Peeping Tom, he is the tenth Yule Lad and while he is not a greedy as the others, he will stand outside the home, looking through the window looking for any toys that have been left out, if he sees any he likes the look of, he will break in and steal them.

Until next time ~~~
~~~Deborah xoxo


  1. Icelanders are given a rough time by those boys. Is anything safe?

  2. I often wonder the same about ancient souls and what they thought about light and darkness and weather events. We get quite a bit of advantage in those departments.
    You are quite lucky to have your Godmother and especially enjoy celebrations with her. Your trifle sounds yummy.
    I'm hoping the Peeping Tom doesn't stray to our neck of the woods. He sounds frightening!
    Enjoy your evening, my friend. xoxo ♥

    1. Trifle is yummy! I could eat it every day.
      ~~~Deb xoxo

  3. What a beautiful poem! No wonder it is one of your favorites. I am glad we are heading back towards the light. I want to go to bed at five pm because it's so dark.


  4. Another lovely seasonal post :) I love the poem by Christina Rossetti too - the words are so beautiful.