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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Midwinters Eve

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Midwest Nativity

Emma Wilkinson, 12 years old, awoke that night aware that someone she did not know stood over her bed.

In the heartbeat moment before she opened her eyes, she found that she knew several other things as well.

That her family, including her sister in bed next to her, all slept quite peacefully.

That she herself felt no fear.

She opened her eyes. The banked fire had burned down to coals, but Emma could see the girl quite plainly. She wore white buckskins and a buffalo robe; her face was strange, but the eyes Emma knew.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Old Holidays Die Hard

Old holidays die hard.

Throughout the Persian-speaking world—Iran, Afghanistan, Kurdistan—the Winter Solstice is a widely-celebrated, if secular, holiday. (For Zoroastrians, of course, it retains its religious character.) In Farsi, it's called Yalda, a word which may or may not be related to the Semitic root YLD, “to give birth.”

It's customary to stay up all night, to see the year's longest night through from beginning to end. People pass the long candle-lit hours, as one would expect, telling stories, singing songs, and eating. In Iran, the tradition is to serve 13 different fresh fruits—pomegranates, melons, cucumbers—one for each moon of the coming year.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Waiting

So the Mother comes to the birthing-stool. Painted with white clay patterns of birth, she waits.

Around her the animals gather in silent expectation. They say that at midnight on Midwinter's Eve, they will speak. They wait.

They say that at midnight on Midwinter's Eve, the trees will burst into blossom. They wait.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Molly
    Molly says #
    This is lovely!
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Just pulling together the pieces, Molly. Glad you like it. My experience has always been that the best stories are the most speci
  • Alana Erickson
    Alana Erickson says #
    Makes me want to get clay in my hands again and make some little figurines for yule time!
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Around Big Mama on her stool, the under-the-tree menagerie just grows every year: the Minoan bull, the faience hippo, the Proto-Ge

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Yule is a birth, and birth is a messy business.

In the old North, women used to give birth in straw. This was called the birthing-litter or the birthing-strew: cushioning, absorbent, and readily disposable.

In fact, straw and strew come from the same verbal root, apparently meaning “to spread.” It was once customary to spread the floors of the house with straw—called halm or haulm, from the same root as Greek kalamos, “reed”—to insulate and absorb spills. Generally the halm had fragrant herbs mingled among it, but even so it must have gotten pretty rank with use. So for many years it was the practice to lay fresh strew for Yule: the Yule-halm. In Sweden this was known as Julglädje, the “Yule-joy.” (The old stuff must have been pretty bad.) Some people would sleep in the Yule-halm so as to leave their beds for the visiting dead who rejoin the family during the holy tide. Straw-dreams were said to be of great omen.

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