Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Winter Solstice Dec 21

The day certainly looked dark as I gazed upon #Toronto’s Yonge Street on December 21 at noon and the Menorah at City Hall was a beacon of light in the early morning commute. Today is the Winter Solstice which is the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere.

If you can’t bear to let this day pass without celebration then you have to go to Kensington Market and join in with many others to enjoy an evening with some unusual fun. The upside of the solstice is that the days get longer as we head further into winter.
Kensington Market once again becomes home to hundreds of people participating in the 22nd annual Winter Solstice Parade where you can “unite to ignite the longest, darkest night…celebrate the solstice community-style in a luminescent lantern-lit procession through Toronto’s Kensington Market. Wednesday, December 21, 2011 – 6:30 to 8:00pm.” Everyone fills the street as they start to gather at the Oxford and Augusta area, then the parade heads out towards Alexandra Park at Dundas St West and Bathurst St for the finale.

It’s fun to get to the market early and watch many of the participants get into elaborate and really cool costumes. Lanterns, flashlights and flames fill the night as the parade starts out and music from large and small bands follow in with the crowd. Young and old participate in the musical and well lit march through the narrow streets towards the ultimate destination deep within the park. The finale usually happens at the baseball field where the inner bases are roped off to keep people safe and allow room for the performers to work their magic.

Members in costumes and the bands enter the field to show off their outfits. Later the flames come out to play as performers start juggling, throwing and blowing fire and the rhythmic musical continues to accent the performance in front of the jammed crowd (this is another event where they could use a raised area so that more people can watch the exciting show – at least the crowds can help to keep you warm). At the end of the celebration a tall, cardboard structure is lit on fire and allowed to burn to the ground. It goes up pretty fast. I haven’t seen a sacrifice yet so don’t feel threatened about attending the event.

You can see my pictures of the 2010 Kensington Market Winter Solstice Parade here and the 2012 Solstice Parade here.

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