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Despite the cold and dark, Northwoods residents get ready to celebrate the solstice

Nicolet College
The winter solstice celebration in 2021 at the Northwoods Community Garden, which featured the burning of an art exhibit by artist Ian Van D., attracted scores of area residents.

Winter officially starts this week, and Mother Nature is making it known.

A cold front is heralding temperatures well below zero degrees, and as the shortest day of the year approaches, sunlight fades before the work day ends.

But despite the cold and dark, some people in the Northwoods are celebrating – and not because of the holidays.

Dec. 21 marks the winter solstice. It’s the day the earth’s northern hemisphere is tilted farthest from the sun.

When the sun sets at 4:16 p.m. Wednesday, it’ll be the shortest day of the year.

But Mike Haasl, the manager of the Northwoods Community Garden, says that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“Once we get through Wednesday, all the days start getting longer,” he says. “It starts to feel like summer may be approaching.”

The Northwoods Community Garden is partnering with Nicolet College and ArtStart to celebrate the winter solstice by hosting a solstice fire.

The fire symbolizes the return of light to a dark world. It also gives people the chance to burn negative thoughts and emotions they want to leave behind.

“It’ll be an opportunity to write things that you personally want to let go,” Haasl says. “We’ll put those in a basket and those can burn as well as a way to release them.”

It’s a way to say goodbye to one year, before starting anew.

The solstice celebration is from 5 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Northwoods Community Garden in the field at Nicolet College. The event is free and open to the public.

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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