Much of my childhood was spent in what some would call an "interesting place." Its a community of artists, spiritualists, and those that most would consider living outside the realm of normal. Every year on the shortest day we gather in the main street to celebrate the solstice, to honour the sun, to feed our spirits (and our faces), to dance and drink spiced wine.
We have celebrated this day ever since I was small but what we are celebrating feels old. Very very old. This particular festival has become quite well known. What was once a smallish gathering of hippies, pagans and free thinking locals has mutated into a literal horde of thousands who visit our small town for the day to watch the locals dancing and burning idols to the crones and gods of winter. Nowdays you can hardly move for all the tourists. It used to be a long day culminating in some feral hippies dancing with fire. Now it culminates in alcohol fuelled rages and fireworks. Knowing what it once was makes it harder to enjoy what it has become but you can still find some of the people and some of the magic that still make it a special day of the year.