Midwinter Celebration

Happy Midwinter to everyone! Tomorrow we will be midway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. We are celebrating today because we are both off work today.

The festivities are well under way here in the bush.

This morning began with a leisurely cup of coffee in front of a roaring fire. Then breakfast, which consisted of Florida Grapefruit, sent to us by Attila’s Dad for Christmas. I enjoyed a blueberry bagel, topped with “better butter” and wildflower organic honey from northern Alberta [my birthday present]. We listened to big band music, while Attila puttered in the kitchen and I removed the Christmas decorations from the tree.

Then out the tree went through the sliding glass door, onto the deck, and over the railing.

Attila’s Grandfather ran a general store, just as mine did. His Mom brought him an old desk from the store, because she has moved into a smaller home after the passing of Attila’s Stepdad. Today it has been brought into the living area to fill the space vacated by the Christmas Tree. It was a bit of work, the hardware on one of the legs needed minor repair.

Wrapping the decorations and storing them away is always a time consuming task, which was completed by lunchtime. After our hard work we indulged in a fresh salad for lunch.

Then we donned our boots and parkas and headed out to the back yard. The temperature was a balmy -7C, by turns the sun and the clouds shared the sky, and stiff gusts of wind created intermittent snow showers, as the tree branches gave up their bounty of white.

It was time for the ceremonial burning of the Christmas tree. Attila drove it into the snowbank, above where the fire pit rests below the snow. Then it was time to light it up. The tree took the count of three to burst into flame. The whole ceremony took about three minutes.

The Christmas Tree driven into the snowbank above the fire pit. No danger of a forest fire with this much snow surrounding the tree.
DSCF4780 xmas tree midwinter
Within the first minute the blaze was impressive, and hot.
DSCF4784 xmas tree midwinter 2
Within three minutes the process was complete. Slowly the remaining blackened branches fell down into the snow. We will store the tree trunk in a snow bank in the back yard, and burn what remains in the fire pit, in the spring.
DSCF4805 xmas tree midwinter 3

Attila is out working on snow removal, as it snowed yesterday, last night, and from time to time today. Soon it will be time for me to wander into the kitchen and get the homemade pizza started. We plan to enjoy this evening with candles, good food, and good company, just the three of us.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-7°C
Date: 3:00 PM EST Sunday 2 February 2014
Condition: Light Snow
Pressure: 101.8 kPa
Visibility: 5 km
Temperature: -6.0°C
Dewpoint: -7.9°C
Humidity: 86%
Wind: WNW 15 km/h
Wind Chill: -12

Quote

“I have since learned that although the festival of Imbolc was far less romantic and far more practical to our Celtic ancestors than the initial image portrayed to me by Mrs Darley, it was no less magical, for it marked the beginning of the lambing season which to the Celts meant the difference between survival and extinction.”
Source: Mrs Darley’s Pagan Whispers: A Celebration of Pagan Festivals, Sacred Days, Spirituality and Traditions of the Year by Carole Carlton

12 comments to Midwinter Celebration

  • WendyNC

    What a delightful ceremony! I’ll point out to husband tomorrow that it is the mid-way point and he can stop grousing about the “long, dark days.” Those “long, dark days” aren’t so much this far south, where today it’s sunny and currently 63F (17C).

    [Maggie, this is our real answer to frozen furnaces. We just wait and it all changes within a few days. Ours should have thawed yesterday, but that last round of cold lasted three days so I'm hoping today will do the trick. That upstairs furnace should be working just fine now that we don't really need it. :) ]

  • Bex

    Oh what a sad ending. I know it’s traditional but I don’t like burning of trees. When we’ve had a real tree, we have left it outside in the back yard and the birds would nest in there… hide in there… etc. The would love having it there.

    I think I have always been afraid of spontaneous combustion and when I see something burning/on fire, it scares me greatly.

    Happy mid winter, though.

  • Wendy, 17C!! In my dreams… and it is coming, but not until April, LOL.

    Glad to hear the furnace lines are thawing, it appears patience is warranted where you live. I really like it when “ignore it and it will go away” works!

  • We don’t find it sad at all Bex, but maybe that is because we burn wood for fuel every single day of the winter. All of our fuel was a live tree at one time. The time scale is different with oil and natural gas, the living beings that became fossil fuels lived a long time ago, so burning their remains doesn’t seem connected to living things.

    I can see why heating with wood not be relaxing at your house. We take every precaution, and never leave the house while there are live flames in any of the wood heating devices. Open flame deserves a lot of respect!

  • Bex

    Yes, you are right Maggie. I guess what I meant was that I don’t like the cutting down of the trees for Xmas to begin with… once they are cut down they are on a slow path to death – or since I don’t believe “we die” – just on a path to another life form of some kind. Our next door neighbor heats only with a wood stove – we are not amused as their chimney is almost in line with our yard – their house sits in a depressed piece of land from ours so their roof is level with our first floor, and when the wind blows their wood smoke in our direction, which is usually all the time, it envelops our property and I am not appreciative of that. But rather than making bad relations with those two even worse by complaining to authorities, we leave it alone and just wait for spring.

  • Wood smoke is a problem in urban areas. I have heard that the air in cities was terribly polluted when coal was the primary heating fuel. Very dirty heating fuel. In the country the wood smoke does not impact the neighbours at all; with one exception. The outdoor furnaces belch out copious amounts of smoke, which can pollute the air for miles around.

  • What a nice celebration! Just think, spring is coming! Heat in the outdoors, if only for a few minutes!

  • LOL, I guess we are trying to prime nature’s pump, get the warmer weather moving up the pipe towards us!

  • I’m always a bit slack-jaw when I read your posts. -7C considered balmy! Good heavens, I shiver to just read some of your sentences, but your posts are always a delight. My lifestyle seems downright decadent in comparison. Um, well it is. I marvel at the mirth and pleasure you create with your daily routines. You guys are cool. It’s just that simple. You are cool!

  • Reenie, thank you for your kind words. December and January had so many nights that dipped below -30C that -7C seems balmy. It certainly is easier to keep the house warm when it is only -7C out there! Variety is the spice of life, isn’t it grand that we are all different!!

  • Hil

    I love to see your tradition! By February, that tree must be good and dry, producing a very satisfying blaze. I am going to be on the lookout for the book you found the Imbolc quote in…it looks very interesting, indeed!

  • Hil, the tree was tinder dry, and it burst into a spectacular flame! This was the first year we have celebrated Midwinter and we loved it!

    Winters are long and harsh here, and I felt we needed something special to plan for, and Imbolc came to my attention. Any excuse for a celebration, bright lights and good food!