Winter Crystal 2000

House of the Sun

This Solstice my husband and I shared a spiritual experience at the House of the Sun. We drove to the summit of Haleakela at dawn on Maui, Hawaii.

Mele Kalikimaka

It means "Merry Christmas" in Hawaii. That's not the only detail that make it strange to be in the tropics at this season of the year.

Earliest Christmas Memories

Not a story but a group of memories about a Christmas long past that linger to this day.

Christmas Time in Panama

Here are some images of various parts of Panama near Christmas time. The photos span three generations of my family's photo albums, dating back to the turn of the century.

Christmas Traditions

Nativity scenes, Santa Claus, reindeer, stars, wreaths and holly, stockings and presents are all associated with Christmas. Some traditions are directly related to the Christian holiday, while others had their origin earlier in various midwinter or solstice celebrations.

Christmas Unplugged

Are you tired of a hyped, glitzy, materialistic, stressful Christmas that has lost it's true meaning? Are you spending beyond your budget and still finding that your children want more brand name toys every year?

Seasons Greetings

This is a time when nature holds her breath: stillness reigns in this most quiet period of the year. The bugs fall silent, plant growth ceases, animals hibernate, and many birds leave. The lakes and streams are frozen, and the land is insulated with a blanket of snow.

Iroquois Midwinter

The New Year or Midwinter Festival began on the first new moon after the solstice. It was the longest of the eight major Iroquois festivals, lasting almost three weeks. It must have been a welcome break from the monotony of winter, when the weather often required spending a lot of time indoors.

Wildlife Christmas Tree

Last Christmas we visited a home with a beautiful tree decorated with nuts and dried fruit. The best thing about using this type of decoration is that you can share your Christmas tree with the birds and squirrels after the holiday.

Reaching over the dark horizon
to loosen crystals of ice,

winter light warms our hearts.

Linda Pascatore/Juan Wilson - Winter Crystal 2000

Boots crunching the trail

hands numb in woolen mittens

tongue catching snowflakes.


Linda Pascatore - Winter Crystal 1999

The sun returning

bringing crystal morning light

to warm all creatures.
by Linda Pascatore, Winter Crystal, 1998

The Phase Named Crystal

We have divided the year into eight phases, based on the Solstices, the Equinoxes and the midpoints of the four seasons (see Solar Phases below). We are now in the phase of Crystal, which begins on the shortest day and longest night of the year, the Winter Solstice on December 21st. There will be one full moon this period, on January 9th. We have named it Popping Trees Moon because you can hear the sap in the trees pop when it is extremely cold. This period of Crystal ends on February 5th, just after Ground Hog's day. That is the midpoint between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. From the solstice on, the light will slowly return as the days grow longer and the nights shorter. Although this period will bring more light, the coldest part of the winter is still ahead of us.

Birds will be very active during this time. Many species not usually seen here in Western New York will be migrating from the north. Look for snow buntings, often found in large flocks over snowy fields, with brown and black patterns on their back and wings. Cedar waxwings might be found in trees with berries. These are brown birds with crested heads, yellow bands on the tail tip, and red stripes on wings.

According to the Old Farmer's Almanac, The Winter Solstice occurs on December 21st at 2:21 PM EST. Jupiter will be closest to Earth on December 30th and brightest on New Year's Eve, rising in the northeast at nightfall.

by Atharva Veda XIX


O resplendent Night,

may you lead us sinless

to Dawn, from Dawn to day

and from day back to you!


Bells at Midnight

by Sylvia Mehta


So why should we fear the winter's cold

When under the furrow sleeps the gold?

The earth bears seeds of the future sun

And out of the dark new life will come,

And care with the bells at midnight flees away,

And joy comes in on Christmas morning.

The Night Before Christmas

by Clement C. Moore

Twas the night before Christmas,when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.


The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads;

And Mama in her kerchief and I in my cap,

Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap,


When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,

Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.


The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

Gave a luster of midday to objects below;

When what to my wondering eyes should appear

But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer,


With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick!

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled and shouted and called them by name:


"Now, Dasher! Now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!

On, Comet! On, Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! To the top of the wall!

Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away, all!"


As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So up to the housetop the coursers they flew,

With a sleigh full of toys--and St. Nicholas too.


And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

The prancing and pawing of each little hoof '.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.


He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,

And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.


His eyes how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!

His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;


The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.


He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf;

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.


He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.


He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!