CREATE - December Challenge : Stories for long dark evenings

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The long winter nights around Christmas are due, as we all know, to the Winter Solstice. Typing 'Winter Solstice' into the h2g2 Search Bar brings up a great variety of Edited Entries, telling of folklore and traditions from all parts of the Northern Hemisphere. It is a magical time of year, and has been celebrated since time immemorial.

The object of this Challenge

In this Challenge, we are looking for stories to tell on those long dark evenings.

Your story can be fantasy, or historical, or one that could be happening right now. It can be a ghost story, a love story, a murder mystery ..... However, it should be based on facts to be found in the Edited Guide.

Take a look at some of the Edited Entries that a search for 'Winter Solstice' brings up, and choose a place, historical period or ritual described therein. Your story unwinds in this environment. Two further interesting facts from the same entry, (or from any other related entry in the Edited Guide) should then play an important role in the narrative. If possible, they should provide a turning point in the plot.

Choose your subject

The directions for this challenge are not as restrictive as they sound. There is a glut of information available right here in the Guide to draw on. Here are the main entries which you can use to fire your imagination:

A7951656 Christmas traditions. There is more to winter than the Christian tradition of Christmas. Imagine what Thor felt like, delivering the children's presents with the help of a goat. In ancient Rome, a great time was had by all at the Saturnalia celebrations. What must it have been like to be there?

A526673 - Why we have seasons. A short entry on elementary astronomy.

A3239796 - Wandering Noon. More advanced astronomy.

A2207297 The Nebra Sky Disc. A lesson in Bronze Age astronomy.

A9564942 - The mysteries of Stonehenge. It was the longest night of the year, and in the shadows of the circle of ten huge stones, a figure moved....

A2181377 Egg-balancing and the Vernal Equinox . A fun read, but this subject will probably have to wait for a few months.

A4187469 - Latitude. Sailing ships could be marooned for weeks in the Horse Latitudes without a breath of wind. What more do you need to set your imagination going?

A29779005 - "Full moons", where we learn that the December full moon is called the Cold Moon - and due to the long nights has more time in view of the earth than any other full moon... spooky!

A647912 - The Neolithic Passage Tombs of Bru na Boinne. Older than the pyramids. Light only falls in the central chamber at the winter solstice. Indiana Jones would have loved it!

A531794 - Wicca - a Legacy of Persecution.. Wiccans celebrate the birth of the sun, Christians celebrate the birth of the Son - and yet they were persecuted. See also A8622885 - The Wiccan Year Wheel.

A1055918 Jack in the Green . The celebrations in Hastings which start in May and come to an end with a bonfire at the winter solstice. Village and small town life is a hotbed for tales of rivalry, jealousy, murder, passion and mystery.

A56993043 -Aldebaran - 'The Eye of the Bull'. Will the world end with the winter solstic 2012? (Apologies to Galaxy Babe for reducing her amazing entry to that bit of folklore).

A685091 - 'Mistletoe'. The Druids set out around the winter solstice to collect the mistletoe, which is at its best for their uses at this time. They disappear into the woods, wielding their golden blades....

A918452 - An Introduction to Asatru - a Teutonic Tradition. 'What happened at the last Winter Solstice at the local Blot?' You tell us!

Guidelines and Deadlines

Length and Format

Without wanting to stunt your creativity, we recommend that your story should be between one and two sheets of A4 paper, were it to be printed out, in Arial 11 or equivalent, with normal margins.

The story should be in the form of an A-page, i.e. a Guide Entry. You may use plain text or GuideML. Please mention the Edited Entry/Entries you have based your story on at the bottom, if using text, or as a "referenced entry" in GuideML.

Opening and Closing Dates

The competition is open from 1 - 31 December 2011. (In your time zone).

What happens then?

Your entry will be read by many interested readers. Let's wait and see!

OK - I'll have a go. What do I do now?

Just put your name down in this thread and you will join the list of participants. When your story is finished, post the A-number in this thread. Don't forget, at the same time, to submit your entry to the Alternative Writing Workshop. This is one of the options you are given when you click on 'Submit for Review'.

Click here to add an entry to the Guide

Good luck to all of you.

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