I make it a habit each year to celebrate the summer and winter solstices if I can. No doubt it’s the influence of all the fantasy I’ve read over the years — a corner of my soul shows signs of being pagan.
Here in Australia we’ve just celebrated the winter solstice — the longest night. (The night which, in fantasy novels, is often devoted to wanton love or, er, lust…)
My annual winter solstice celebration usually takes place on a friend’s farm just outside Melbourne, and typically involves a feast and then a bonfire. We conduct a very short casual ceremony when darkness falls — light some candles to represent the return of the sun and exhale/inhale bad things/good things.
We eat. We drink. (And keep drinking if I’m lucky enough to be sleeping over.)
But it is the bonfire that calls us.
Two years ago the solstice celebration was particularly memorable for the three vacuum cleaners converted into flame throwers. (You can read about the Bonfire of the Vacuums here.) Flaming vacuums featured again this year, but we paid them little heed. That was so two years ago!
This year (for me at least) it was all about the singing. My friend rustled up an old songbook featuring the lyrics to an eclectic mix of songs. We flicked through and sang the ones we fancied — a mix of Billy Joel, the Beatles, show tunes, folk songs… even Sam Brown’s Stop (I’m sure that was far more fun for me to sing than for others to listen to…)
And my favourite for the night: Don’t cry for me Argentina from Evita. Elaine Paige eat your heart out! We totally nailed that song!
And all this to a backdrop of flaming vacuums.
It was a gorgeous clear night too, glittering with a canopy of stars. The moon was only a day off full. Only a day off being a ‘Supermoon’ in fact. We were very aware of it shining brightly overhead, casting shadows.
The bonfire was more than two metres in diameter and radiated amazing heat — a good thing, since the night was shudderingly cold.
Singing songs around a bonfire — under a Supermoon no less — was such an uplifting experience that it’s easily my inspiration of the week.
Have you ever sung songs around a fire? Would you like to? Tell us about it…