For me, the wintertime festive season begins in early December when the nights really start to draw in, the trees are bare, hard frosts and  snow seal the world in a mantle of icy white.

This is the dark and silent, turning inward time of year.  The time after the harvest when we and the earth naturally enter a season of quiet and rest.  I’ve been leaving work after dark to ride along the river valley to my bus stop.  As I cross the apple orchard, the moon and stars shine brightly between the once leafy, apple laden branches.

Advent new moon

At the same time, in this restful season, there is the warmth and sparkling joy of time spent at home with my beloved and with friends and family. The comforting traditions of favourite foods and movies and the joy of new discoveries.

Burne-Jones' Last Judgment window, Birmingham Cathedral

I love candlelight and fairy lights that shine in the darkness, and all of the things that bring magic to the season such as Christmas decorations, cards and carols, wreaths and holly, reindeer and robins, our Advent calendar.

Yuletide is a winter festival that was initially celebrated by the historical Germanic people as a pagan religious festival, though it was later absorbed into, and equated with, the Christian festival of Christmas.   I love the idea of the winter holiday encompassing many days and different traditions.

St. Andrew''s churchyard, Moretonhampstead

Yule tree with dancing hearts, Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen

Most of all, I love being at Home for Christmas.

Our village, Moretonhampstead, in the snow


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