Happy Winter Solstice 2021

A decorative image with a blue background, snowflakes in white all over, with blue, orange, and red snowflakes in groups in the corner, a white and gray snowman, a penguin wearing a red Santa hat, and a red cup of hot chocolate on the bottom reads "Happy Winter Solstice 2021"

Yesterday marked the official end of fall, and the start of the winter season. In other words, today’s Winter Solstice 2021, the day with the shortest daylight, and the longest night in contrast for the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, it’s the Summer Solstice. Lucky ducks!

Seriously, if any of you readers are living anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere, can I just live vicariously through you?

Does anyone here remember Little Bear? Before y’all start throwing shyt at me, or at your computer screens, just run with me here for a sec. I promise! Anyway, it was a series that aired on Nickelodeon back in the 1990s during their Nick Jr. daytime programming block. I remember seeing it as a kid, and there’s one episode that still stands out to me. It was an episode about the Winter Solstice.

A screenshot from an episode of Little Bear from 1996 about the winter solstice. In the screenshot, there's snow on the ground. Two elderly bears, one male and one female, stand in the snow-covered walkway, with a red sled behind them. Grandfather Bear is wearing a blazer, pants, a vest, a shirt, and a tie. He has a newsboy cap on his head in gray. Grandmother Bear is wearing a long blue dress, a white bonnet, and carrying a white furry hand muff covering her paws. Behind them is a red sleigh-style sled. Little Bear sits in the walkway after rolling around in the snow, and Grandfather Bear is bending over to pick him up.










The series takes place in the latter half of the 1800s in the wilderness. This explains their outfits, and their home decor. In the episode, Little Bear and his mom and dad are inside getting dinner ready for their Winter Solstice celebration, and their tradition of decorating the tree outside with dried fruits and popcorn garlands, and lanterns to light the way for the snow angels to find their offerings. Soon, Little Bear’s friends Hen, Owl, Cat, Emily, and Duck come over to join in on their celebration.

While Little Bear, his friends, and his family are inside having their Winter Solstice dinner, the animals find the offerings on the tree outside, and have their own holiday dinner. Little Bear looks out the window, and sees a young deer struggling to get to the cookie he hung on one of the smaller branches. Little Bear goes outside, climbs the tree, and gives it to him.

The Winter Solstice means the longest night of the year. For those living within the Arctic Circle, the polar night is already well underway. As we get closer to springtime, the polar night will shift toward the midnight sun.

In the Little Bear episode, the theme is Winter Solstice traditions. However, we can also apply that to holiday traditions in general. If you’ve been around here for a time or two, or been by the Instagram lately, you’ll see mention of some certain things involving the holidays. Since my mom and I didn’t always have a turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas, we had Thanksgiving or Christmas pizza instead. I made pizza for Thanksgiving, and I’m making more for Christmas.

Another tradition I started a couple years ago was making popcorn garlands to hang outside on the century-old juniper bush outside, the rhododendrons along the side of the house that beat against the windows during storms powerful enough to knock down trees and power lines, and the bushes in front that obscured the house.

This time a year ago, I was sitting on my bed in my old room, listening to a documentary about this major creep of an FBI agent who sold secrets to other countries and was also a consent violator to boot. (He’s now rotting in ADX Florence where he belongs, btw.) It was background noise for me as I sat in there, stringing popcorn into garlands from one of our metal mixing bowls to take outside.

I had plans to make some this year to hang along the bushes outside our bedroom windows, and the porch window. I found the air popper, but haven’t been able to find the cheapie bag of popcorn we had in the kitchen forever. When I do, I’ll maybe make some between my near-nonstop job hunt.

Who says it has to be done only on the Winter Solstice, anyway?

Popcorn itself is nothing new, having originated in what we currently refer to as the Americas among many Native Nations. Popcorn garlands became a Victorian tradition for many families since it was an affordable means of decoration across socioeconomic classes. According to the website, popcorn recipes popped up in many cookbooks of the era.

The popcorn balls my mom and I had periodically during the holidays were store-bought, from the deli of a store that no longer exists. Since it was just the two of us, she worked, and that didn’t leave her a lotta time for much else. I’ve got a little doohickey to make popcorn balls in the kitchen. It was part of a promotion from Jolly Time, and I sent in for it in college.

I think I know what else I’ll be doing when I find that popcorn, haha.

There’s an old saying about how it’s always darkest before dawn. While the Winter Solstice night is the longest, that means one thing: after today, the days will get longer and brighter. I’m having a real hard time believing this, not gonna lie to you. Not after what this year’s been like for my mom and me.

Over to you, readers. Got any Winter Solstice or holiday traditions of your own? I’d love to hear your thoughts and takeaways, so drop ’em like they’re hot below, and let’s talk.



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