When you get old and confused and start taking your pills for Osteoporosis, you become prejudiced against ice and rather look forward to the end of Winter. And ... here we are in the December Ember Days, originally the Feriae Sementinae of pagan Rome, when the sowing was done. So already we are allowed to look forward to the Return of the Sun and to the fertilities of Spring and Summer. Incidentally, the earliest liturgical formulae we have for these Ember Days predate the invention of Advent and seem completely oblivious of the approach of Christmas. Could it be that they predate even the invention of Christmas?? For example:
Humbly O Lord we beseech thee that, being sufficiently aided by the full measures [commodis] of earthly fruits, we may advance towards thee the Author of all things.
How redolent of the unfussy workaday matter-of-fact genius of the old Roman Rite.
And then, yesterday, the Feast of S Thomas the Apostle, we had the Winter Solstice. Not a day too soon, sez I.
At least, we did if we follow the Gregorian Calendar. I expect solstices and equinoxes and all that sort of stuff come later for all you followers of the Julian computation. Three cheers for pope Gregory XIII! Perhaps one day we may have a pope sufficiently enlightened and Flexible to move the solstice even earlier! Perhaps ... this is just a thought that has popped into my mind ... back to the Feast of S Lucy! Frankly, I don't go for all this Rigidity.