Today marks the winter solstice, the day when in the northern hemisphere the sun ‘stands’ at its most northerly limits at dawn and dusk, bringing about the shortest 24 hours of the year. In times past both solstice and equinox periods were marked by quarter days, when in Britain workers were hired, rents were collected, and school terms began.
In England these quarter days were settled on Lady Day (25th March, the feast of the Annunciation), Midsummer’s Day (24th June, the feast of St John the Baptist), Michaelmas Day (29th September, the feast of St Michael and All Angels) and Christmas (25th December).
But there were also so-called cross-quarter days, holidays occurring roughly midway between quarter days, which corresponded closer to feast days celebrated in Celtic nations such as Scotland and Ireland. These were Candlemas (2nd February), May Day (1st May), Lammas (1st August), and All Hallows or All Saints (1st November). Some of these days are popular dates in much fantasy fiction whenever supernatural events take place, and that has been the case with Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising sequence, completed by the final volume entitled Silver on the Tree.Continue reading “Quarter days and others #TDiRS22”