The midwinter solstice is my favorite day of the year. Not because it’s the beginning of the cold, snowy winter, or because it’s the longest night; snow and darkness hold no appeal for me. In fact, it’s the opposite. Midwinter, for me, is a day of hope, when you look forward to the return of the light.
Winter is depressing, that’s a scientific fact. Our bodies produce vitamin D, the happy sunshine vitamin, from sunlight absorbed through the skin, a process that cannon happen when 1) daylight hours are short and therefore sunlight is scarce and 2) our skin is covered with warm albeit opaque coats and scarves and hats. Vitamin D goes down, risk of depression goes up. There’s even a name for this wintry melancholy – SAD, Seasonal Affective Disorder. Fitting, no? (http://www.vitamindcouncil.org/health-conditions/mental-health-and-learning-disorders/depression/)
Why do I love midwinter so much then? It’s the longest night, the day with the least sunlight, and therefore should be the most depressing day of the year. It’s literally rock bottom for SAD people. But for ages, cultures around the world have celebrated the midwinter solstice as a day of rebirth and rejuvenation. It is the end of the months of darkness and the rebirth of the light. There are still dark days ahead, as the light must still struggle to reclaim its dominance, but midwinter is a victory.
Until spring and sunlight return, however, I’ll pray for good luck in the new year, dream of warm breezes, and double up on my vitamin D supplements.