Winter IS coming. Specifically on December 21, 2021--otherwise known as the winter solstice.

It will be the longest night of the year, as it always is.

Usually, the winter solstice is mentioned in passing or you may have noticed it on your calendar from time to time.

But what is the winter solstice, exactly? 

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Technically speaking, Wikipedia defines the winter solstice as "the day with the shortest period of daylight and longest night of the year, when the sun is at its lowest daily maximum elevation in the sky. At the pole, there is continuous darkness or twilight around the winter solstice."

I really like this simple definition from one of my favorite writers, who refers to it as "midwinter":

But is the winter solstice celebrated as a pagan holiday in East Texas?

The winter solstice has been celebrated in many ways for millennia--across many cultures at different times. And yes, that includes those who subscribe to more pagan traditions--even here in East Texas.

You may have also heard it referred to as Yule, which we still sing about in some of our Christmas carols.

Alisa Anton, Unsplash
Alisa Anton, Unsplash
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Some of our Christmas traditions, such as "boughs of holly," Christmas trees, and that playful sprig of mistletoe we hang over our doorways, were also a part of winter solstice celebrations of long ago.

And yes, some people still celebrate in the "old way." But some of those traditions have clearly blended with our modern celebration of Christmas.

But whatever way each of us chooses to celebrate privately, one thing we can all agree on:

There's something special about this crisp season. Now, this is Texas, and though we aren't typically socked in with miles of snow and ice, (unless we get a repeat of Uri), we definitely get our cold winter days and nights.

It's during this season that we turn inward, gather with loved ones, and take a break from the frantic pace of the rest of the year--well, once we've finished our holiday shopping and cooking, that is.

There's a certain warmth that can only be experienced in contrast to the outside chill. It reminds us to take a breath, get cozy, focus on loved ones, celebrate faith and family, and reflect on the new year.

And of course, it will also herald the arrival of Christmas just a few days later. Wishing you and yours a very happy Christmas and/or holiday season.

Oh and if you're looking for a place (other than your house) to celebrate this year, here's quite a few ideas to consider:

Tyler Residents Reveal Their Favorite Holiday Spots For Hosting Larger Groups of People

Whether you're looking for a place for 20 or 100, Tyler has several options I'd never known, despite having lived here for many years.

East Texas Drive Thru Christmas Light Parks Provide Holiday Fun

Gather up the family for a holiday road trip to an East Texas Christmas light park.

The 12 Best Holiday Movies On Netflix Right Now