The Sun Stands Still, Celebrating the Winter Solstice

The day begins late and ends early. A stretch of low light glances at an angle across chilled landscapes, some blanketed in ice and snow, others dry and brittle without the warmth of life we associate with the earth. The shortest day of the year may be dark or dreary, it may sputter rather than suffuse; but it is a day of great change, a day for celebration of the possibilities of the lengthening days before us.

The word solstice originates in Latin, and literally translated means a “stoppage” of the sun. In some parts of the northern hemisphere, on December 21 it would certainly appear that the sun has come to a standstill ever so briefly. But it rises again, its warmth stretches across the earth in longer and longer swathes, returning life and hope to desolated regions. The change is necessary, the shift inevitable. Our days will fill with light again, our plants with life, our limbs with energy. We rise with the return of sunlight and face the constancy of creation that surrounds us. The symbolism has been worked into art and literature since humanity began reproducing the processes of life in such mediums. Following is a list of suggested titles for celebrating the solstice with family and friends, or just for settling in with an enchanting tale while the sun’s thin, watery light lasts.


The Return of the Light, Carolyn Edwards

The Return of the Light, Carolyn Edwards

These 12 stories from different continents and different cultures represent the transition from dark to light. They celebrate the shortest day and longest night of the year, the winter solstice which ushers in longer days and the coming renewal of spring.

Dear Rebecca

Dear Rebecca, Winter is Here, Jean Craighead George

A beautiful epistolary tale for children, Dear Rebecca is a letter written to a distant granddaughter that explains the long coming of winter after the summer solstice, and the early beginnings of spring and summer found in the heart of the darkest days of winter.

Moominland Midwinter

Moominland Midwinter

A celebration of the sweetness of innocence, the Moomin novels by Tove Jansson are classics not just for children, but for anyone yearning for a simpler time full of wonder. This installment follows the adventures of Moomintroll, accustomed to sleep the winter through, as he wakes early and discovers a changed and changing landscape.

Winter Solstice, Rosamunde Pilcher

Winter Solstice, Rosamunde Pilcher

No list of novels with which to curl up would be complete without a representative of the classic English romantic novelist Rosamunde Pilcher. Her last novel, Winter Solstice, explores the effects of tragedy on an elderly couple at the time of deepest darkness, when the hints of change bring warmth and comfort.

How to Celebrate Winter Solstice

How to Celebrate Winter Solstice, Teresa Villegas

A guide to celebrate the changes wrought by the shortest day of the year, this practical and fun book helps to remind us of nature’s effects on our lives.



Michael Barnett is a writer and editor with associative ties to Alibris as strong as heartstrings.

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