Seyram A. Butame

You see the Black Skin Blue Eyed Boys/ They ain't gonna fight no wars.

Winter is here!

21 December 2021

Today December 21, is the shortest day of the year and officially the first winter day in the northern hemisphere. It was a dark time in centuries past when folks wondered when the chill would recede and the sun would warm their faces.

However, the cold, snow, lack of sun, absence of greenery, and overall sense of desolation that once marked the season have been conquered by our collective industry. The existential threat of the season is a distant memory. Our nostalgia has stripped winter of its deadliness, and it has become a time for play and laughter. It is as Sigman and DeRose wrote:

It’s a marshmallow world in the winter

When the snow comes to cover the ground

It’s time for play, it’s a whipped cream day

I wait for it the whole year ‘round

(The first verse of “A Marshmallow World,” the holiday song made famous by Dino and ‘Ol Blue Eyes)

I mean, look at the image above1. It should make me anxious. I should be thinking about making it to the safety of home and hearth before darkness descends. Yet, I see the image, and I think, “How cute. It would be totally choice to go out there shred some nar and then head back home. Take a luxuriating bath, then have a hot cup of cocoa in front of a fake fireplace, while Let it snow plays in the background.” It turns out winter is great if you don’t have to worry about heat or finding food.

Anyway, my favorite winter-themed holiday song is “The Holly and the Ivy,” which I think captures some of the original anxieties of the season. It’s a reminder that holly and ivy are pretty hardy, and in the desolate hellscape that is winter, they are some of the only plants you will find flourishing. But the folk tune also holds the promise of warmth and the season of plenty to come. Sure, that promise is couched in religious themes, “So Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ/ To be our sweet savior,” but still it is a great promise.

The holly and the ivy,

When they are both full grown,

Of all the trees that are in the wood,

The holly bears the crown.

The rising of the sun

And the running of the deer,

The playing of the merry organ,

Sweet singing in the choir.

The holly bears a blossom,

As white as the lily flower,

And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ,

To be our sweet Saviour.

The rising of the sun

And the running of the deer,

The playing of the merry organ,

Sweet singing in the choir.

(Apparently, the composer is lost to time, but the version we enjoy was compiled by Cecil Sharp, who in turn heard it from a woman, Mary Clayton, a resident of Chipping Campden in Gloucestershire)

Image Source:The image on this page are sourced from 1 and the featured/ sidebar image is Wallpaperflare.com2

  1. Image Source: Coucher de soleil sur la neige.. sunset over snow.. by Didier Gozzo  2

  2. Image Source: Beautiful Night Winter by Unknown/Anonymous