I find the hustle and bustle of this time of year to be almost ironically the opposite of how we should be spending this time. Winter should be for retrospection and isolation of self, but instead we expend our energy, stretch it even further thin than we normally do. If you celebrate Christmas, it can be an intense time, spent mostly with others and probably ending with an exhausted huff when you do finally have a moment to yourself. New Year’s Eve and Day, which is only significant to the Gregorian calendar, can be even more exhausting, performative, and guilt ridden. We analyze our calendar years and feel like we haven’t done enough. The season of winter is a challenging one for us humans, simply because we made it that way.
In the early stages of capitalism, the rich realized that when the working class followed the natural rhythm of time and not “clock time,” they lost money. Following natural time meant honouring the fact that not every hour was 60 minutes. A “winter” hour is about 40 minutes, while a “summer” hour is around 70-80 minutes. This is based on the season and geographical location and is actually just the natural way we should be following time. The rich noticed that the working class got paid the same hourly amount, no matter the length of the hour. So, in the winter, workers were being paid an hour’s worth of work for only 40 actual minutes of work. They didn’t like this, as they wanted the most profit possible, so they adopted “clock time” which made every hour a length of 60 minutes. This put strife on us, as we naturally begin to respond to the darkness that sets in around 4-5pm in the winters but were forced to adhere to clock time for productivity’s sake. (click here, here and here for some different sources on clock time and real time. It can be a confusing topic but one that I think is worth investigating).
Now fast forward and here we are, exhausted during a time in the northern latitudes where we should just be resting. We are made to feel guilty for trying to respect our bodies’ natural correspondence to the universe. We are very separated from nature, and the wintertime makes it so apparent to me.
Nature calls for us to take a break during the winter. There is less daylight for a reason. Many other mammals take the wintertime to hibernate. The land is frozen solid; nothing grows, unlike springtime, which is the season for the starting of crop growth. The cold winds and barren land serve a purpose, and we have strayed so far away from it. Everything is at a standstill of sorts, yet we are pushed to ignore our bodies’ signals this time of year. Its almost like they made it that way for a reason, isn’t it?
I risk sounding a little too “conspiracy theory” for my liking. Unfortunately, we have no choice but to adhere to society if we want to survive. However, I encourage anyone reading this to spend as much time in introspection as possible this season; that’s what it’s meant for. This upcoming winter solstice is a powerful one (Jupiter conjuncts Saturn exactly for my astrology buffs out there) with immense growth and change behind it. What better way to start this new chapter but to take a timeout and go inwards? Especially during this pandemic, we need to be gentle with ourselves and this winter would be a beautiful time to start. The world can be cruel, and we are so out of tune with it, but if you can create a safe respite in your heart and soul, a place to come back to when you feel broken and damaged, you can conquer the world. I think winter allows us this time to recharge and collect ourselves, and we need it now more than ever. Take it.