Having found Autumn Cross-Quarter so much to my liking, I’m celebrating Winter Cross-Quarter. This doesn’t seem quite as radical as Autumn Cross-Quarter which came a week after Samhain and fell in a different month; Winter Cross-Quarter is only a day after Imbolc this year. But if anything, I have more emotional investment in Winter Cross-Quarter. I have made it to the halfway point of winter. This feels like a genuine accomplishment, one that I don’t feel during the other three seasons. Indeed, at the halfway point of summer, even if it’s been hot, humid, and completely miserable weather, I’m a bit sad because, you know, summer is going away. Halfway through winter, and it’s Yay hallelujah!
I’m also hoping I can work up more enthusiasm for Winter Cross-Quarter than for Imbolc. Groundhog Day never interested me much, even as a kid, and when I became Wiccan, the descriptions of Imbolc weren’t all that much more inspiring. I could appreciate that ewes were having lambs and how that would matter to an agrarian community way back when. But I’m urban and the product of a high-tech culture and the distance was just too great for me to connect across. Even knitting with wool—about as close to sheep as I’m ever likely to come, along with seeing them at the state fair—didn’t lead me feel like this was one of “my” holidays.
For Winter Cross-Quarter, I’m focusing on its seasonal attributes. Even sealed away at home or in an office most of my waking hours, I’ve noticed the days are getting longer. Spring is conceivable—March is next month (!) and not four months away. While it’s definitely lighter longer outside, it’s also a lot colder now than it was at Winter Solstice. Sure, this is the halfway point of the season—that means we’re in the heart of winter. (Insert Winston Churchill’s quote here: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Especially apropos given that staying still in frigid weather can hurt or kill you.) But even if it’s too cold here for crocuses to poke up through the snow, I sense that new life is stirring somewhere.
Winter Cross-Quarter falls in February, a month often dedicated to purification. The Christian holiday of Candlemas (February 2) is also called the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin. In the Roman calendar, Februarius was the last month of the year, named after Februus, the god of purification, and was seen as a good time to clean things up before starting a new year. I totally understand the need to purify something at this point in the season. Apartments, especially older ones, get a certain stale odor in the winter. While I’m unwilling to commit myself to a full housecleaning, it’s warm enough today that I can open the windows a bit for a few minutes for some fresh air. Sometimes the simplest rituals are the best.