The longest, darkest night is falling upon us

Today, December 21st, 2020, our Celtic forefathers warned us through a dream at early dawn: “Wake up, Son of Samhain, you must prepare your family for today’s celebration.” We immediately jumped out of bed, ready to follow a ritual that has been in our families for centuries, both in the Basque and Italian branches: The Winter Solstice.

In an excellent article, Elizabeth Dias, a reporter of The NY Times, said: “Humans all over the Northern Hemisphere will share nature’s winter ritual of darkness on Monday, whether they acknowledge the winter solstice or not. In the lower 48 states, this year’s longest night will last 15 hours and 50 minutes in Angle Inlet, Minn., according to the U.S. Naval Observatory. In New York City it is 14 hours and 45 minutes, and in Miami 13 hours and 28 minutes.”

The end of the happy Summer season and the beginning of the harsh Winter has been celebrated by agricultural communities since Ancient Times with a special family gathering around a bonfire, sharing a hearty meal and traditional stories. The critical supply of grain was already stored in the makeshift silos, the animals were herded into the barn for protection and everybody looked up at the clearest sky. Will the deities above have mercy on human beings and allow them to survive this winter? They believed that the unstable period was used by wandering spirits to cross over. It was a time of great fear and uncertainty, and only their communal efforts could finally save them.

Note – This picture of David Rijckaert’s Barn Interior was taken from Wikimedia Commons.,_with_three_peasants_near_a_fire_place_to_the_background.jpeg

We have become inured to the passional riveting of these ancient cyclical benchmarks, naively safe in the belief that just the marvelous scientific and technological prowess of the past two centuries would shield us from the dramatic consequences our ancestors suffered if they dared to ignore them. However, the terribly prolonged pandemic of the SARS-CoV-2 has dramatically altered the supposedly “normal parameters” of daily life, obliging  all of us to adapt quickly. Even something as simple as ordering a cappuccino at a bar, has been radically changed, maybe forever. This utterly contagious virus is an Agent of Evil that does not respect national boundaries or social standings.

The approval of the Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna vaccines has given us the needed glimmer of hope that, after a long wintertime, the chain of viral transmission will be radically cut. The national governments, while enforcing a draconian lockdown for festivities, are actively signing contracts for a steady supply of the vaccine for their populations. It would be wise to look at the pristine skies tonight and pray to whomever/whatever.

May God Almighty have Mercy on us and grant us the privilege of surviving Winter.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.