Sunday, December 19, 2010

Winter Solstice

Winter Horse Riding

We are coming up to the darkest days of the year this week with the Winter Solstice occurring on December 21st (Tuesday). 

I was listening to some beautiful music on CBC radio this afternoon live from Háteigs Church, Reykjavík, Iceland. It is the perfect time of year to think about Iceland, since they are so close to the Arctic Circle and the contrast between the darkness of the days and the light of Christmas is so stark. (Yes, Canada is kind of an Arctic Circle sort of place too, but let's face it, most Canadians live pretty far from it, which is not the case for the Icelandic people!)

Music samples are at Amazon.

The feast day of the patron saint and only native saint of Iceland, St. Thorlakur Thornalli (1133-1193), is also celebrated this week on December 23. He happens to have lived during my favourite century, by the way. The traditional celebrations very much resemble my own plans for this week.

According to Wikipedia, St. Thorlak's Day (Þorláksmessa) is considered the last day of preparations before Christmas. Therefore, on St. Thorlak's Day, the house is cleaned and preparations for the Christmas meal are begun. Most people in Reykjavík go into town in the night to meet others and do the last shopping before Christmas. Fish was usually eaten on Þorláksmessa since December 23 was the last day of the Catholic Christmas fast.

Speaking of Christmas fasts and Advent, did you know that beer is traditionally a penitential drink especially appropriate for Advent and Lent? My favorite right now is the Great Lakes Brewery Winter Beer.

I guess it's time to get back to all that house cleaning, meal preparing, present wrapping and beer drinking and in the name of St. Thorlak, enjoy this last week of Advent!


  1. Many thanks for a post filled with useless facts!

  2. Only useless if you fail to make good use of them! Dare you to drink two penitential beers and then wish three people on the TTC "Happy Thorlak's Day!" with your Icelandic pony in tow on Thursday!! You never know what could happen...


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