On the shortest day a poem by Jane Kenyon focuses on the common occurrence of nativity plays at this time of year. Most frequently performed nowadays by children, and watched by adults – what layers of interpretation, of dark and light, can be seen in these seemingly innocent festive events?

The pines look black in the half-

light of dawn. Stillness …

At the village church last night ..

the girl dressed as Mary trembled

as she leaned over the pungent hay,

and like the mother of Christ

wondered why she had been chosen.

The wind blows Christmas lights of remembering in Claydon churchyard.

The wind blows Christmas lights of remembering in Claydon churchyard.

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