by Sarah Skochko, Intern Minister
My first winter in Oregon, it seemed to be getting dark so early in the day. At first I thought it might just be the rain. But as the long winter weeks went by I couldn’t shake the feeling that it really was darker in Eugene than in Philadelphia.
So I looked up the sunrise and sunset times for both cities. I discovered that on the solstice, Eugene gets nearly half an hour less sunshine per day. It is that much farther north. I felt… robbed. And vaguely depressed. Of all the factors I’d considered before moving, the length of the days had not occurred to me. The fact that Eugene would get an extra half hour of sunshine at the summer solstice seemed a distant consolation.
Of course, that first winter, I didn’t yet have a church community to celebrate the solstice with, to light candles with on Christmas Eve, to share cookies with after a nighttime choir concert. It’s no wonder the concept of “hygge” comes from Denmark, which has some of the coldest and darkest winters in the world. Hygge is a sense of coziness, comfort, and conviviality, like enjoying a cup of tea with a friend in front of a crackling fire. That’s what I was missing, more so than the sunlight.
At this time of year, our church has so many cozy, “hyggelig” events as we honor the winter darkness and the togetherness it brings.
On Friday December 21 – the darkest day of the year – we will be having a Solstice Circle in the Sanctuary from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. Each person will carry a candle with them as they walk the spiral to the sound of soft music, celebrating the turning of the wheel.
On Sunday December 23 at 10am, we are having our annual Service Project during our regular worship hour. Like last year, we will be making “blessing bags” for the homeless. This was so much fun last year, and many people asked if we could do it again.
On Monday December 24 – Christmas Eve – we will have two services! At 4pm, we’re having our Christmas Eve Family Service for people of all ages. This service will be full of fun and laughter and storytelling. Then at 7pm, we’re having a Contemplative Service. It will be a time of quiet reflection as we celebrate the return of the light after solstice. We will light candles and sing “Silent Night.”
I hope you can come to one or all of these “hyggelig” celebrations. During this darkest week of the year, it is so nice to be inside a warm, candlelit church with friends, sharing cookies and laughter.