Every year again I find it amazing to experience the way light returns after a long span of time. I hardly can wait for this moment. But at the very point in time I think I cannot bear the darkness any longer, light returns. It even seems as if it has beaten the darkness all of a sudden…
The increase and the decrease of light follows a mathematical curve. It is a period of one week during midsummer that the moment of sun dawn does hardly change. This also applies to sunset although this moment starts almost a week later!
Starting from the end of July sun dawn is shifting 10 minutes or more in a week’s time till the beginning of December. Sun set starts a week later, but shows a larger shift up to more than a quarter of an hour during a week in the second half of September.
Although the actual shift in December is reduced to two or even one minute a week, the darkness deepens. People experience this as a long lasting period. Then Christmas arrives. At that very moment a change in daylight can be observed: it is as if the veil of darkness is lifted up for a moment. One can be relieved and be helped to endure the darkness which still will be lasting for another couple of weeks. Also the birds help, sitting on the electrical wires, by singing at sun dawn.
From mid January onwards we can encounter a remarkable lengthening of the day.
Here on Inis Meáin there is a lovely tradition on the fifth of January which is called Oíche na Coinnle beaga (night of the little candles). All the houses light 12 candles at sunset and put them at the window. These 12 candles represent the 12 holy nights which start at Christmas’ Eve and last till Lá Cinn an Dá Lá Déag (day of the 12) on the 6th of January. Promising flames marking the way towards the return of light.
Slán go fóill,
Elisabeth from Inis Meáin.
WIN AN ARAN SWEATER