December 29, 2017,  Peabody

Rec. Dept. hosts First Annual Winter Solstice Celebration

By Christopher Roberson

While most people scoff at the arrival of winter, the Recreation Department welcomed the coldest months of the year with the First Annual Winter Solstice Celebration at Brooksby Farm. Maureen Sammon, the department’s outdoor education coordinator, said the purpose of the event was to recognize that the days start getting longer after Dec. 21 when there is just nine hours and 32 minutes of daylight, marking the shortest day of the year.

“It’s the buildup of the return of the sun,” she said, adding that the winter solstice is quite prominent in Celtic mythology and in Christianity.

The celebration included making lanterns and Yule logs, a Nordic tradition that dates back thousands of years. Sammon said that according to the tradition, a prosperous year will follow if the log catches fire and stays lit.

She said the Yule logs at the celebration came from oak trees. “Oak represents the light returning to conquer the darkness,” she said.

The event was lightly attended. Sammon said that was likely because of the holidays and that it was held during the week.

Brian Diehl of Salem attended the event with his wife Ashley and their children Obi and Noelle. “It was cold, but we really enjoyed it,” said Diehl, adding that he and his wife heard about the celebration from a family friend.

He also said the celebration was well thought out with the activities being designed for children. “The

kids liked the hands-on stuff,” he said. “We still are using the lanterns as nightlights.”

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