In preparing for the season of Christmas, I follow the age old tradition of having a good old clear out and tidy-up…much to the discerning eyes and critical comments of family and friends…”but why are you changing the furniture around?” “…re-painting that room…” etc., Well, don’t ask me…it’s just what I have always done!
Yes, indeed, Christmas has some strange effects on people and it’s older than you think…
I am driven with the desire to instill a sense of order upon Bealtaine Cottage as the midwinter festivities approach.
There is a history to this festival that precedes the usual image we hold as the collective ideal…Christmas.
The winter solstice was immensely important.
This was because communities were not certain of living through the winter, and had to be prepared during the previous nine months.
Food and wine was ready to eat and drink as fruit fermented and animals were slaughtered as feed stocks dwindled.
Hyacinths continue to push their way up through the soil and moss in a pot, placed on a window-sill in the cottage. It’s good to have a reminder of what’s to come…
Even during the morning, parts of the interior of this Irish cottage can be dim during the months of midwinter.
Light was and remains the important aspect of winter and our ancestors realized the connection this had to all life.
That connection, that sense of knowing the elemental forces that governed their lives, was so important to them, that many monuments were erected to this end.
Here in Ireland, Newgrange is the most important, monumental reminder we have of this elemental connection.
So today has been a day of tidying and ordering…cleaning the henhouse, sorting wool, cleaning out one cupboard, (well, that’s a start!) and listening to the gentle music of “Altan,” as I go…