The Longest Night

The winter solstice, that longest night of the year, happens next week. And as with any change of season, it will be celebrated in a variety of ways around the world. Of course, Stonehenge is one of the most highly prized locations to be on the solstice because of how the stones create a perfect sightline to the winter solstice sunset. A similar occurrence is celebrated at the stone age burial mound in Newgrange, Ireland. And all across northern Europe folks celebrate the solstice with wacky Krampus festivities. Krampus is that creepy half-demon, half-goat anti-Santa Claus who punishes bad children. The traditional Krampus parade is believed to ward off bad spirits near the winter solstice. (In case you want to make your own Krampus hat, check out this free pattern).

Stonehenge during the winter solstice. Photo by PhotosforClass. Creative Commons.

Apparently, ages ago special market days were held just before the solstice to allow village folk to stock up on extra supplies to last through winter. Over time, these winter markets gave way to bustling Christmas markets selling special handcrafted gifts and local delicacies and treats. Famed Christmas markets like the one in Nuremberg, Germany, the Tivoli Christmas market in Copenhagen, and one of my favorites, the Tallinn Christmas market in Estonia are still thriving today. (And if you can’t make it to Estonia for the market, shop online at ClothRoads where you can buy fabulous handknit socks from Estonia. And now you’ll find these holiday markets around the world, in Dubai, Mexico City, or Singapore. The Santurantikuy Christmas market in Cusco, Peru, has been a Christmas Eve tradition for over five hundred years. Artisans set up on the Plaza de Armas early in the morning on December 24th and sell their ceramics and textiles and other artisanal goods until the evening.

Tallin Christmas Market, Estonia.

I hope you find a touch of light for the longest night of the year and warmth and color and handcrafted goodies for the whole season.


THRUMS BOOKS make the perfect gifts. Available at ClothRoads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at your favorite bookstore.

Thrums Books

3 thoughts on “The Longest Night

  1. Susan says:

    I thought this was going to be about the custom in Greenland, whose name means something like ‘cozy’, where everyone gives books and they all read on Christmas Eve. Very nice custom for a publisher!

  2. Ercil says:

    This will be one of my favorite blog entries… I just love how it touches over so many traditions this time of year. The Solstice holds much human history. We’ve added it to our calendar. Krampus is a curious character that deserves more study. We have a friend that does Krampus carols every year. Thanks for the free pattern! The photo from Estonia looks like an oil painting. I love the festivities of this time of year and the old and ancient celebrations in the face of what was a hard and long season to survive.
    All the best!

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