Like it or not, the calendar has a way of sneaking up on us. I wrote this poem during advent in 2008. You can prepare for advent or not, but one day it will be Christmas, whether you are ready or not. You can say much the same about Easter, which will be the subject of my next poem.
But the winter solstice is more secure than Easter. The early Irish Christians celebrated Christmas on the winter solstice, no doubt an echo of their pagan past, which eventually put them in conflict with the Church of Rome. And then there’s the impossibility of Easter: a movable feast, the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. A theologian’s holiday.
But the winter solstice is reliable, sneaking up on us around the 21 or 22 of December, in the fullness of light. And it makes perfect sense for Christmas: He was born on the darkest night of the year to bring light into the world.
BTW: “Gaude” is Latin for “rejoice.” It is the singular imperative form. The third Sunday in Advent is traditionally called Gaudete Sunday, using the plural imperative form.
The picture is New Grange in the Boyne River Valley north of Dublin. It’s a huge burial mound, older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids of Giza. On the winter solstice the light of the rising sun enters the tomb through the window above the entrance way, giving light even to the dead.