Thursday, January 05, 2023

January Thaw


January arrives wearing galoshes and a buttoned-up raincoat. Not a speck of snow remains from last week’s blizzard and the cold and snow. I am thinking of pulling the bike back out of the garage, and hanging laundry on the line. Aside of abnormally warm temperatures and a neighborhood that looks a lot like March, what else is happening?

Thank you for asking. First of all, I was fortunate to spend New Year’s Eve with lovely friends in Indianapolis. We celebrated with a Hogmanay theme which is how this night is celebrated in Scotland. The origin or Hogmanay is thought to have come when the Vikings invaded Scotland in the early 8th Century These Norsemen always paid attention to the Solstice and celebrated the arrival of that event! There are so many traditions with Hogmanay. It is always time to clean out the ashes in the fireplace, and always clear all your debts before midnight. (That might be a bit late for some of you!) We also opened all the doors at midnight to let out the old and let in the new. And, of course, we sang “Auld Lang Syne.”

There are two wonderful events this week which coincide with the first week of January. The first full moon of January will happen at 6:09 on Friday evening. This full moon is labeled as a Micromoon which means it is at its farthest point from Earth. This is completely opposite of the Supermoon. January’s moon is known as the Wolf Moon. During the month of January, the wolves begin to get hungry and circle the villages waiting for food. Another name for this moon is the Center Moon. This moon was aptly named by the Assiniboine people. Supposedly the Center Moon is half way through the cold season. Of course, traditionally, January was the cold month so the other names such as Freeze Up Moon, Severe Moon, Canada Goose Moon and Spirit Moon have also been noted. Of course, it is hard to believe we have such cold names for the moon this week as I see my laundry fluttering on the clothesline.

This warm spring like weather has me a bit worried about early buds on trees or the fact that the crocuses might be betrayed. So now you know. Whatever you want to call this full moon, make sure you do not miss it, and if you feel a bit chilly while watching, remember it is January. My grandmother used to say, “When the days begin to lengthen, the cold begins to strengthen.”

The other event which I celebrate is the ending of Christmas. On Friday, the same day as the full moon, we celebrate Epiphany which is the 12th day of Christmas. This day marks the visit to the Christ Child by the Magi, or the three kings. During the Epiphany, the three kings brought gifts to the Christ Child. However, some scholars now believe they were actually early astronomers who followed the Star of Bethlehem. In December of 2020, the star was visible. Unfortunately for some of us, the next Star of Bethlehem will not be seen again until 2080. I guess I will just have to be glad I saw it in 2020!

I do celebrate Epiphany by inviting friends over to eat the king cake. Well, actually it is a coconut cake in which I have placed a token. Whoever, gets the token will be the reigning king or queen whenever they visit my house! Friday night will be the last night I light my tree. One more time to enjoy the beauty of a candlelight filled house. I shut off every light in the house to enjoy the candles. Such beauty only exists in fairy tales or in my pretty little storyteller’s cottage. After I blow out all the candles, it is time to take the tree down. Sigh. This year’s tree was absolutely the most beautiful of all. Maybe I say that every year, but this year I mean it. It has been enchanting, and I will miss it.

But then again time to move on. So many other wonderful events coming up this winter. Burns Night. Chinese New Year. Valentine’s Day. So, there is every reason to embrace the winter, especially these temperatures.

In the Bleak Midwinter by Christina Rossetti

“In the bleak midwinter frosty wind made moan,

Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone:

Snow had fallen, snow on snow,

Snow on snow, in the bleak midwinter.”

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  The Trine University Theatre Company on closing night of The Matchmaker.