Today is a magical day. Science, and Wikipedia would tell us it's the day when, "the axial tilt of a planet's polar hemisphere is farthest away from the star that it orbits." Yes, we are that planet, and the star, our sun. It's the Winter solstice and the beginning of winter.
Back in the day, and even today in many regions this time is, " immensely important because communities were not certain of living through the winter, and had to be prepared during the previous nine months...most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter, so it was almost the only time of year when a supply of fresh meat was available. The majority of wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking at this time."
As a nurseyman who leaves work at the end of the day in the dark, it means everyday will be just slightly brighter at closing time. Just that thought is enough to raise ones spirits! You look forward to spring when the days will finally start becoming longer, and business begins to pick up. There are not many trades that are tied into the seasons quite like horticulture.
We underestimate the importance of the season. We feel immune from such seemingly trivial information as the changing of the season. We work and live inside where lights turn night into day and our only connection to the season is the call by desperate businesses to "shop, shop, shop". I guess the shopping thing harkens back to our need to hoard stuff to get us through the "famine season" (winter).
It's a mistake for our trade to abandon so much of the magic that horticulture entails. We use to speak of plants using a language long thought dead, Latin. We use to encourage people to plant fruit trees in the winter (bare root season)when they are dormant. Now we pot them so people don't have to think ahead, but rather pick them up while spring shopping. Latin? Too much for customers to deal with. We seemingly don't have to worry about how we are going to feed ourselves during the upcoming winter. Someone else has done that for us. Hungry? Head to the grocery and pick up some asparagus flown in from Chile, where it's the Summer Solstice.
We have reached the depths of darkness and now we begin our slow return to light. To those who garden or deal with the weather and seasons daily, enjoy the magic that is today. It gets brighter from here. Cheers!