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Fairies in the Peterborough Unitarian Universalist Church's Winter Pageant on Sunday morning sing “Joy to the World.” Pictured are Holly Gordon, 7, of Keene and Forrest Beaudoin-Friede, 17, of Temple. (Meghan Pierce/Union Leader Correspondent)

Peterborough Unitarians celebrate winter solstice

PETERBOROUGH — The Peterborough Unitarian Universalist Church winter pageant is a little different every year, but is always unique and inclusive, church members said Sunday morning after this year's winter pageant, Yule Forest.

There is always a focus on the winter solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year, the turning of the year and the returning of the light.

In some years the pageant has embraced and intertwined several winter holiday stories from Christmas to Hanukah to Diwali, the Hindu festival of light.

But this year pageant writers Sarah Franklin and Lisa Beaudoin drew from ancient Celtic mythology about the winter solstice.

"We always have a blast putting the pageant together," Beaudoin said. "In general we draw from the winter solstice traditional stories. …We do that because the story of the return of the light is cross-cultural and cross-global."

They aim to make the pageant fun for the children, engaging for the adults and warm for all, Beaudoin said. "So it has a sense of the sacred as well as the frivolity of the celebration."

The pageant starts in the dark, narrated by Rob Eichler, "The Sun King is very weary and diminishing."

The fairies and the woodland creatures are dismayed when the old Sun King dies, believing the world will remain in darkness Then Ivy Queen introduces them to the new born Sun King, played by 2-year-old August Burnham of Bennington.

"I like that it's sort of a different take on the season," said his mom Victoria Burnham, who played the Winter Maiden Goddess. "It celebrates the solstice and offers an opportunity for all people to come and celebrate the sun coming back."


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