The Day Without a Year

The Day Without a Year December 20, 2023

The Day Without a Year


When I was younger, studying with my mentor, they called the Winter Solstice “The Day Without a Year”. For them, they felt that this was at the end of one year and the beginning of the next. While this day is important in our 365.25-day solar calendar, I think of it fondly, each Winter Solstice.

My birthday is also this time of year, on the 26th, and I have always felt that it exists in this liminal state between the solstices and the civil new year. There are 10 days that are kind of just sitting there, floating in the uncertainty of this different time.

A new New Year?

While many, many people celebrate Christmas (there, I spelled it out), starting on the 26th through the 31st I maintain that these days really occupy an uncomfortable place in the calendar. I have thought for a long time about writing a blog post entitled “Let’s start the new year on the Solstice!”.

When I was at university, living in my own liminal space between the world of education and the beckoning world of employment, the solar cycles were very important to me. I was not quite a full-fledged pagan – I probably was unaware of that term as a designation of belonging – but my spirituality was greatly punctuated by the seasons.

The seasons, to me, were the fixed points in the year. Movement from Solstice to Equinox to Solstice was the drumbeat of the year, equally balanced – appealing to my Libran ascendant – and so logical. It made perfect sense that there were four discreet segments of the year and they fit, nicely into my educational calendar: fall term, winter term, spring term, summer holidays, which for me were summer session at school.

Breaking sticks

I used to pay close attention to the exact time of the seasonal changes. It reminds me today so very much of Rev. Earrach of Pittsburgh’s breaking a stick at the exact time of the Solstice or Equinox. I would go outdoors at that exact time, close my eyes, and listen. If I listened carefully, I swear that I could hear the spheres moving into the next season.

I still do.

It is no great mystery that our modern-day world, filled with electronics, iPhones, and a never-ending stream of electronic promptings, seems to never let up. We look at our phones as the last breath of the prior day. We glance at it once again as the first breath of the next. Our days are like this, our months are like this, and our years seem to evaporate with the greatest of ease.


I remember listening to “Time” by Pink Floyd when it came out and the line “And then one day you find, 20 years have got behind you” and I thought, what an odd line. I just cannot imagine that. Needless to say, that lyric has come around about as many times as the seasons have since then.

I like the idea – very much so – of taking the time to recollect the past year and to collect myself before moving onto the next. The years have moved by very quickly. It seems like I was just opening a bottle of champagne for New Year’s Eve in Alberta, 31 December 1999, and yet in the second it takes to bring me back to the present, 24 years have marched ahead, in one step, or, in many.

This Day Without a Year

So, I think I will continue to observe the Day Without a Year. I do not believe there is any historical basis for this. I do think that it was a brilliant stroke of insight to dedicate a day to remember, to gather, and to celebrate the stillness.

Perhaps, in some parallel reality or maybe in a future space, the year ends and then begins after this one-day break, this pause-that-refreshes at Winter Solstice each year. I think I will stand on that quiet day, and remember, and plan, and celebrate the stillness of a day without a year.

Of course, I would be remiss to not apologise to my friends in the Southern Hemisphere who would say “why would we want a day without a year at Summer Solstice?” And that would be a good question indeed.

The other side…

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it would be a time to stand still before the days begin to grow longer before the slow march of ever-lengthening days and the shortening nights. For those in the Southern Hemisphere, perhaps, it would be a time to relish the glories of the day at its longest, with the glories of the growing season meeting the longest of days. One world, two different pauses, looking up to the skies, listening as the spheres move into the new season, standing in stillness, on the Day Without a Year.





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